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FOR RELEASE: August 28, 2003
CONTACT: Leslea Bennet-Webb
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

State Health Officials Confirm Additional West Nile Virus Cases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health today confirmed six new cases of West Nile virus, bringing to 17 the total number of human cases reported thus far in Oklahoma this year.

“We cannot repeat our West Nile virus prevention message too often,” emphasized State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Kristy Bradley. “Before going outside, Oklahomans simply must apply mosquito repellent with DEET to protect themselves against mosquito bites.”

The newly confirmed cases include the following:

  • 19-year-old woman from Texas County
  • 53-year-old man from Texas County
  • 48-year-old man from Jackson County
  • 62-year-old woman from Kiowa County
  • 23-year-old man from Carter County
  • 57-year-old man from Tulsa County

Bradley said at this point in the season, the Panhandle, southwest Oklahoma, and Tulsa County are the areas of the state seeing the most human West Nile virus activity. “Even so, we are entering the peak weeks for West Nile virus, so all persons in the state must be vigilant in making sure they protect themselves from mosquito bites,” she stressed.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of the Culex mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. These mosquitoes pass the virus to humans. Only about two of every 10 persons who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Still, serious illnesses, including West Nile encephalitis or meningitis, as well as death, are possible, particularly for those persons over 50 years of age.

Bradley reminded Oklahomans that following these simple tips will help “fight the bite.”

  • Avoid mosquito bites by covering up bare skin and using insect repellents that contain DEET (N, N diethyl-m-toluamide) before going outside.
  • Mosquito-proof around your home by emptying standing water, regularly scrubbing and refilling birdbaths and pets’ water dishes, and ensuring that window screens are in good repair.
  • Avoid being outside during the hours of dawn or dusk, when disease-carrying mosquitoes are most active.

“Please encourage your family and friends to take similar precautions to protect themselves from the mosquitoes that can spread West Nile virus,” Bradley suggested.

For more information about West Nile virus visit these Web sites:
http://www.health.state.ok.us/program/cdd/ow/index.html and http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm.

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