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Fill-in-Blank News Release for County Health Departments

For Release: _____, 2006
Contact: __________
_____ County Health Department
(Phone)

_____ County Health Department Urges Protection Against West Nile Virus

The _____ County Health Department reminds the public to take precautions now against West Nile virus (WNV). The months of July through October are the highest risk months for exposure to WNV in Oklahoma.

Thus far in 2006, three human cases of WNV encephalitis have already been confirmed. Since 2002, when WNV made its official entrance into Oklahoma, 153 cases and six deaths have been reported.

“From testing in previous years, we know that the disease is now a seasonal health threat throughout Oklahoma,” said _____, administrative director for the _____ County Health Department. Contrary to what is often associated with mosquito-borne diseases, WNV transmission tends to increase to higher levels during periods of heat and drought conditions.

WNV is transmitted in Oklahoma primarily by Culex mosquitoes. These mosquitoes pick up the virus when they feed on infected birds, and then transmit the virus when they bite humans, horses and some other mammals.

Symptoms of West Nile disease include fever, intense headache, extreme tiredness, muscle weakness, and dizziness. In more severe cases, swelling and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord may occur leading to mental confusion, coma, and possible death. Adults over the age of 50 tend to be at greater risk of developing life-threatening or disabling WNV disease.

“The best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites, so begin mosquito prevention now around your home and business,” _____ said.

To protect against mosquitoes, the _____ County Health Department suggests that you remember the “4 D’s of Defense” prevention tips. They include the following:

  • Dusk and dawn – Avoid outdoor activities during these prime times for mosquito activity.
  • Dress – Wear clothes that cover as much skin as comfortably possible.
  • DEET – Use an insect repellent containing DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) when outdoors and reapply according to directions.
  • Drain – Drain those items that collect standing water around your home, yard or business. Scrub and refill pet water dishes and bird baths regularly.

For more information about West Nile virus prevention, contact the _____ County Health Department at (phone number), or visit this Web site: http://www.health.ok.gov/program/cdd/wnv/index.html.

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