West Nile Kills 12th Oklahoman, Health Officials Urge Continued Precautions

Thursday, October 18th 2012, 5:48 pm
By: News 9

The West Nile virus is to blame for the death of another Oklahoma resident.

The state health department says the latest victim is a man over the age of 65 in Pontotoc County. That brings the death toll this year to 12, a record-breaking number for the state.

The number of reported cases in Oklahoma is now up to 173. That's the highest number on record since the virus reached the U.S. over a dozen years ago. And unfortunately, the health department says more cases are likely this year.

Health officials want Oklahomans to remain on alert to protect themselves from the virus. Even though the weather has been cooler lately, mosquitoes that carry the disease still remain a threat.

While the number of reported cases is declining, 2012 has still been the deadliest year for West Nile in Oklahoma.

10/18/2012 Related Story: 12 Deaths From West Nile Reported In Oklahoma, Breaks Record

"It is very significant," Phil Maytubby, with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department says. "We've never had this level of West Nile virus in Oklahoma, period."

That's why the health department is reminding people to wear insect repellent that contains DEET. They also say to stay inside at dusk and dawn, and drain any standing water on your property. That could be in tires, buckets, cans, guttering and bird baths. Mosquito larva can live in basically anything that can hold water for a week.

"If they've already covered their pool, usually those pool covers hold water, and that might become an issue," Maytubby said.

It's an issue that's here to stay until mosquitoes neutralize in the first big freeze this fall.

The Oklahoma City-County Health Department is already preparing for next year, too. It will launch a new program this spring to trap mosquitoes for early testing, that way it can get an early indication whether the virus is showing up again and how it could affect us in 2013.

Before this year, the highest number of West Nile cases was reported in 2007 with 107 infected and 9 deaths.

For a full checklist to reduce mosquitoes near you, go to www.occhd.org/fightthebite

Other information is available through the Oklahoma City-County Health Department Consumer Protection (405) 425-4347.

News 9's complete West Nile Virus coverage