Health Officials: West Nile Could Be Worse This Summer In Oklahoma

Monday, July 1st 2013, 10:37 pm
By: News 9

Health officials in Oklahoma are warning that the West Nile virus has the potential to be even more wide spread this summer than last year's deadly outbreak.

The weather is to blame, according to epidemiologist Cynthia Harry. Mosquitoes are expected to thrive after a mild winter and more rain in recent months, which means a pesky assault could likely be in the works.

"I was more nervous about my dog than I was for myself last year," Edmond resident Emily Schwab said.

2012 was a deadly year and one of the worst when it came to the West Nile virus in Oklahoma.

"You'll start by having … lack of consciousness, dizziness, blurred vision," Harry said.

Those are the extreme cases, according to Harry. Health officials say most people who get the virus will never even know it. But, for everyone else, they're not taking any chances. For years, officials in Tulsa have been trapping mosquitoes found in standing water to better understand the virus and its local impact. Oklahoma County began the same program this summer. Once a week, the traps are removed and the mosquitoes are tested.

"We can warn people in that area that they need to be extra vigilant," public health specialist Waite Colbaugh said.

Officials advise staying clear of standing water, wearing extra clothing and plenty of repellant. The Centers For Disease Control recommends an insect repellent with deet.

As of late Monday, health officials said they had not identified any confirmed cases of the West Nile virus in Oklahoma. It takes about 24 hours to confirm a case after an infected person is inspected at a hospital.