TULSA, OK – Tulsa Health Department officials confirmed that a sampling of mosquitoes from Tulsa County has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). It is important for residents to remember to take precautions against WNV. At this time, there have been no confirmed cases of WNV in humans in Tulsa County; however, the months of July through October are typically the highest risk months for exposure to WNV in Oklahoma.
“Our mosquito surveillance program is vigilant in testing for West Nile virus,” said Bernard Dindy, Tulsa Health Department environmental health services program manager. “But more importantly, we work proactively to control the mosquito population by larviciding to kill the eggs before they become adults. We routinely test 50-60 pools weekly, and once a positive sample is identified we are aggressive in spraying the area and informing the public so they can protect themselves.”
West Nile virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, which feeds on infected birds and then transmits the virus when biting humans, horses, and some other mammals. Symptoms of WNV include sudden onset of fever, headache, dizziness, and muscle weakness. Long-lasting complications can include difficulty concentrating, migraine headaches, extreme muscle weakness and tremors, and paralysis of a limb. If one or more of these symptoms develop, especially after suffering mosquito bites within the previous two weeks, a health care provider should be contacted. Persons over the age of 50 are at greatest risk of developing severe neurologic disease from WNV infection. Some of the neurological effects of WNV may be permanent.
Among the precautions to take against mosquito bites are the following:
Use an insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors, particularly if you are outside between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are more likely to bite. (Insect repellent with permethrin should be used on clothing only.)
Repair or install window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
Prevent items such as buckets, cans, pool covers, flower pots, and tires from holding standing water so mosquitoes don’t have a place to breed.
Empty your pet’s outdoor water bowl and refill daily.
Clean leaves and debris from rain gutters regularly to ensure they are not clogged.
The Tulsa Health Department operates a mosquito surveillance program in order to confirm when WNV is present in the community. Special mosquito traps are set in various locations throughout Tulsa County. Samples are collected and tested weekly for the presence of WNV. The Tulsa Health Department also works to control mosquito populations during the spring and summer by larviciding and adulticiding when necessary. To place a complaint about mosquitoes in your area, please call 918-595-4219 or submit an online environmental complaint form here.
The 2014 mosquito season by the numbers:
49 trap samples tested for the week of July 14-17, 2014
1 trap sample tested positive for West Nile Virus
291 trap samples have been tested so far this season
6,100* mosquitoes collected for testing *approximately
0 human cases of WNV in Tulsa County
1 human case of WNV in Oklahoma