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FOR RELEASE: July 11, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Take Time Now to Heed West Nile Virus Prevention Tips

The nation’s first human case of West Nile virus for the summer has been confirmed in South Carolina by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and while Oklahoma has yet to record its first human case this year, state health officials say the public should take steps now to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

“Although it is difficult to predict how this year’s West Nile virus season will unfold in Oklahoma, we do remember how rapidly West Nile virus spread across the nation last year,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Leslie Beitsch. “We urge everyone who spends time outdoors to control mosquito populations around their homes and businesses and practice personal prevention.”

Beitsch said three simple actions can help prevent West Nile virus infection:

  • Avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellents with DEET.
  • Mosquito-proof your home by emptying standing water and installing screens.
  • Report dead birds to your local county health department.

West Nile virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, usually the Culex mosquito, which acquires the virus after feeding on infected birds. The virus is then transmitted to humans and animals when bitten by the mosquito. Culex mosquitoes are most active in Oklahoma from July through October. While no human cases of West Nile virus have yet been reported in Oklahoma this summer, equine cases have been confirmed.

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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