Take Precautions, Don't Worry About West Nile, Medical Expert Says

Thursday, August 16th 2012, 11:09 pm
By: News 9

Sixty-one people statewide are sick with West Nile Virus. Tulsa and Oklahoma counties are reporting the majority of cases. But despite the health department's alarming announcement this week, experts say the average person shouldn't walk around worrying about West Nile.

After three deaths In Oklahoma, a state of emergency in Texas, there is panic over West Nile.

8/16/12 Related Story: City, County Leaders Workout West Nile Plan

"It's a potentially serious infection, one of many, but not something that is of epidemic proportions at this point. It doesn't look that way to the average person," said Dr. Robert Welliver of OU Medical. "Most people that get West Nile Virus infections don't have any symptoms at all."

Look at the stats: 80% of people that get it never know they had it; 20% of the people who become infected will develop West Nile fever; of that 20%, 10% become life threatening infections; 1% of people affected get central nervous system manifestations.

8/16/2012 Related Story: Another Death Linked To West Nile Virus In Oklahoma

"We say you shouldn't smoke and you shouldn't drive fast and many more people will die of that than West Nile Virus this year," Welliver said.

Welliver points out that there isn't a vaccine that is FDA approved for West Nile and there is nothing to do to prevent it once you get bitten by an infected mosquito.

Pregnant women, kids and elderly can all use repellant with DEET. You can even spray it on your clothing.

See how the health department highlights counties with West Nile Virus.

See the number of West Nile cases by county in Oklahoma.

See statistics of West Nile Virus by age group.