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Fill-in-Blank News Release for County Health Departments

West Nile Virus Identified in State

For Release: (Date)
Contact: (Administrative Director)

 West Nile virus (WNV) may have an early start in Oklahoma this year according to the _____ County Health Department. A 55-year-old female in Pittsburg County has been confirmed as having WNV infection. She was tested for WNV last month after suffering from sudden onset of fever, headaches, dizziness, and muscle weakness – all commonly reported symptoms for West Nile fever. WNV is transmitted through the bite of mosquitoes. Infection can cause severe and sometimes fatal illness.

  “It’s not too early to tell mosquitoes to buzz off!” said _____ County Health Department Administrative Director _____. “Even though the highest risk months in Oklahoma for WNV exposure are July through October, everyone should start protecting themselves now against mosquito bites.”

 _____ suggests two easy steps to avoid mosquito bites: first, use insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors, particularly if you are outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are more likely to bite, and second, mosquito-proof your home and yard.

Insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus provide the best protection against mosquito bites. DEET repellents come under many brand labels such as Cutters, Deep Woods OFF!, Skintastic, Muskol, Repel, among others, and in many formulations and concentrations. Generally, the longer you are outside, the higher concentration you should use. Products that contain 20 percent or greater concentrations of DEET may provide protection for four hours or longer.

Always read the label before selecting a repellent for use on small children. Only products containing less than 30 percent DEET are advised for children under 12 years old. Recently, the ingredient IR3535 was also approved for mosquito protection. In the U.S., repellents containing IR3535 are available exclusively as Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus. This type of repellent and other products with lower concentrations of chemicals are ideal for use when planning to be outdoors for a short period of time.

To mosquito-proof your home and yard, follow these recommendations:

•   Repair or install window and door screens.

•   Don’t leave doors open, including garage doors, so mosquitoes cannot enter the home.

•   Drain standing water from buckets, cans, pool covers, flower pots and other items so mosquitoes don’t have a place to breed.

•   Throw away or cover up stored tires or other items that aren’t being used.

•   Clean pet water bowls and birdbaths often.

•   Make sure rain gutters are not clogged.

In 2007, Oklahoma was one of the top 10 states in the country in the number of reported WNV cases, with 107 cases and eight deaths. Persons most at risk are those over the age of 50. Public health researchers have learned that persons who have received an organ transplant, or who are diabetic, are also at increased risk.

Many people who contract WNV develop life-changing complications after the initial course of disease. Long-lasting complications can include difficulty concentrating, migraine headaches, extreme muscle weakness and tremors, paralysis of a limb, and depression and mood swings. Some neurological effects may be permanent. There is no specific treatment for WNV infections and there is no vaccine available for people.

For more information about West Nile virus, visit these Web sites:

http://www.ok.gov/health and http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm, or call the _____ County Health Department at (phone number).       

West Nile Virus in Oklahoma 2002-2007

Year      Cases         Deaths
2002          21                 2

2003          79                 0

2004          22                 3

2005          31                 1

2006          48                 6

2007         107                8


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