TULSA, OK – [September 19, 2013] – Tulsa Health Department officials today announce two confirmed human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) in Tulsa County. These are the first confirmed human cases to be reported in Tulsa County this season. Residents are urged to continue to take precaution against WNV as months with the highest risk for exposure to WNV are the months of July through October.
Anyone residing in an area where WNV is present is at risk for exposure; however, approximately 80% of individuals infected with the virus will have no symptoms. At the beginning of August, department officials confirmed that a sampling of mosquitoes from Tulsa County tested positive for WNV. There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent WNV infection.
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 using mosquito traps in various locations throughout Tulsa County in order to confirm when West Nile virus is present in the community. The Tulsa Health Department also works to control mosquito populations during the spring and summer. In a typical mosquito season, THD sprays over 800 square miles for adult mosquitoes. To place a complaint about mosquitoes in your area, please call 918-595-4219.
Tulsa Health Department
Since its establishment in 1950, the Tulsa Health Department serves as the primary public health agency to more than 600,000 Tulsa County residents, including 13 municipalities and four unincorporated areas. THD’s mission is to sustain an equitable system that prevents disease, promotes healthy living, and ensures preparedness. The agency is dedicated to empowering citizens to make healthy choices that carry forward for future generations. THD was among the first health departments in the U.S. to receive national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board.