Oklahoma Health Department Warns Of Rise In West Nile Cases
OKLAHOMA CITY - The health department says there could be a dramatic rise in the number of West Nile cases this year in Oklahoma.
There have already been two confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in Tulsa and Pittsburg Counties, but experts at Oklahoma State University say people in the metro need to aware of the biting bugs.
Mosquitos are more than a nuisance this summer. Within the last week, mosquitoes started testing positive for West Nile Virus in Oklahoma. So should you be worried?
"A good indicator is you ‘Were in an area where you have been bitten a lot by several mosquitos?'" said OSU Entomologist, Justin Talley.
Flu-like symptoms that you can't seem to shake is a good indicator that you may have the virus.
"Really we see more West Nile Virus in the older population or anybody that's immune [system is] compromised already," said Talley.
In Tulsa County a man over the age of 65 was diagnosed with West Nile.
"Usually the risk is like a .001 percent, a very low chance. As far as if you get bit by a mosquito, then you think ‘So I have West Nile Virus?'"
Approximately 80 percent of the population can survive West Nile infections, but experts say you should still avoid mosquitos.
They are attracted to certain colognes and perfumes, the colors of the clothes, especially the darker colors," said Mosquito Control Expert, Dr. Rudy Bueno.
The simplest way of preventing new cases of West Nile is to wear long-sleeved clothing and socks that go above the ankles. Mosquitoes can still bite through clothing so you should also apply insect repellent. Experts say you should also be aware of mosquito's hosts.
"Birds harbor West Nile Virus. Mosquitos feed on birds, then us, or horses. Horses are the other dead end host," said Talley.
To avoid being a host try and remember the culprits: standing water and going outside around dusk or dawn.
The state health department says West Nile was first reported in Oklahoma in 2002. Since then there have been 329 cases and 20 deaths.