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For Release: Aug. 23, 2012 – Pamela Williams, Office of Communications – 405/271-5601

Cooler Temps and Rain May Increase WNV Exposure Risk

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) said today seven new cases of West Nile virus (WNV) have been reported among Oklahoma residents, bringing the total thus far this year to 72 cases. No new deaths were reported. The OSDH warns that milder temperatures and rain in many parts of the state provide conditions that may prompt increased risk of mosquito bites and the potential for WNV transmission.

“Oklahomans should not let their guard down when using insect repellent,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline. “Now that our state’s extreme heat has lifted, more Oklahomans are likely to seek outdoor opportunities to enjoy the milder temperatures – attending school athletic events, working out in the yard, taking evening walks, or enjoying camping trips or excursions to the lake. But with the welcomed rain in many areas of the state, there are now more opportunities for standing water for mosquitoes to breed. I urge everyone to continue to use insect repellent when outdoors and keep a can in your car or travel bag for reapplication as necessary.”

Cline said late August and September are peak periods of WNV transmission in Oklahoma. “We want all Oklahomans to be ‘mosquito aware’ during late summer and early fall,” he emphasized.

The OSDH suggests using an EPA-registered insect repellent such as those containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Products with a higher percentage of DEET as an active ingredient generally give longer protection. Permethrin sprayed on clothing provides protection through several washes, but the product should not be sprayed on skin.  Recently, IR3535 was approved as an active ingredient. Regardless of what product you use, if insects are still biting, you should reapply the product according to label instructions, try a different product, or leave the area with biting insects. The OSDH offered these insect repellent recommendations:

  • Products containing up to 30 percent DEET can be used on children.
  • Use aerosols or pump sprays for skin and treating clothing because they provide even application.
  • Use liquids, creams, lotions, towelettes or sticks for more precise application to exposed skin, e.g., face or neck.
  • After your outdoor activity, wash repellent-treated skin with soap and water.
  • Don’t overapply or saturate skin or clothing.
  • Don’t apply to skin under clothing.
  • Don’t apply more frequently than directed on the product label.

The OSDH also reminded Oklahomans to empty those items in your yard that can hold standing water so mosquitoes don’t have a place to breed, and to double check your window and door screens to make sure they are in good shape and can keep mosquitoes out.

For more information on WNV prevention, visit www.health.ok.gov, or call your local county health department.

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