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FOR RELEASE: October 18, 2002
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
405/271-5601

Oklahoma West Nile Virus Case Being Investigated as Transfusion-Related

Health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) announced that an Oklahoma case of West Nile encephalitis is being investigated as being potentially associated with the receipt of an infected blood transfusion component. The Oklahoma case is one of three patients in an out-of-state investigation who are suspected of acquiring West Nile virus infection through receipt of blood or blood products donated by persons who were unknowingly infected with the virus.

The Oklahoma case is a 71-year-old man from Tulsa County who developed symptoms suggestive of West Nile disease on September 13. He was hospitalized briefly in Tulsa, then transferred to a Houston hospital where he later died on September 22 in Texas.

This is the first Oklahoma resident to die from West Nile virus-associated causes but the ninth human case reported in Oklahoma this year. Twenty-nine cases of West Nile virus infection possibly caused by blood transfusion are under investigation nationwide.

The investigation is ongoing and health officials expect to have more information available for release on Monday, Oct. 24. OSDH health officials are working with the Harris County Texas Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on this investigation.

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