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Fill-in-Blank News Release for County Health Departments

For Release: _____, 2007
Contact: __________
_____ County Health Department

Protect Yourself Against West Nile Virus Wear Insect Repellent with DEET

The spring rains have come, the puddles have formed, and the mosquitoes have begun to buzz. That means it is time to start practicing the “4 D’s of Defense” against West Nile virus (WNV) again. Even though the highest risk months for WNV exposure are July through October, the _____ County Health Department wants to remind the public to start protecting themselves now against the seasonal health threat of WNV.

“The best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites,” said _____, administrative director for the _____ County Health Department.

_____ suggested beginning mosquito prevention activities around your home and work place by practicing the “4 D’s of Defense” against WNV, which include the following:

Dusk and dawn – Wear repellent if outdoors during these prime times for mosquito activity.
Dress – Wear long pants, long sleeves and closed toe shoes when outside to cover the skin.
– Use an insect repellent containing DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) when outdoors and reapply according to directions.
– Drain those items that collect standing water around your home, yard or business. Scrub and refill pet water dishes and bird baths regularly.

“Now is also a good time to check door and window screens and repair any tears or gaps, and clean out leaves and other debris in rain gutters to keep them flowing freely,” said _____.

The health threat from WNV in Oklahoma began five years ago when the first WNV- carrying mosquitoes arrived in the state. “Any person that is bitten by an infected mosquito can develop West Nile disease, but older adults are more likely to develop serious, life-threatening disease,” _____ emphasized.

No human cases of WNV disease have been identified in Oklahoma thus far in 2007, however, 2006 was the deadliest year for WNV in the state with a total of six deaths and 48 human cases reported to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. In 2005, there were 31 human cases of WNV and one death.

WNV is transmitted primarily by Culex mosquitoes. These mosquitoes pick up the virus when they feed on infected birds, and then spread the virus when they bite humans, horses and some other mammals. Culex mosquitoes are most active during the evening and early morning hours and can enter homes through open windows or doors. Common symptoms of West Nile disease include fever, intense headache, extreme tiredness, muscle weakness, and dizziness. Persons with West Nile encephalitis, the most serious form of WNV disease, may rapidly progress to mental confusion and difficulty walking.

For more information about WNV prevention, contact the _____ County
Health Department at (phone number).


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