West Nile Virus Confirmed

Tulsa, OK – The upcoming Fourth of July weekend is expected to have thousands of Oklahomans spending time at lakes and rivers all over the state. Tulsans are no exception.

The holiday comes on the heels, however, of the Tulsa Health Department's first confirmation of West Nile Virus carried by mosquitoes in Tulsa County, and officials warn that anyone planning to celebrate out of doors should take precautions.

WNV is transmitted by mosquitoes, which pick it up from infected birds. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headaches, dizziness and muscle weakness. Only one death was recorded in Oklahoma last year due to WNV, and Tulsa County had one recorded case of the disease.

The Health Department advises using insect repellant when outside and ensuring that no standing water in buckets, flower pots, pet dishes, etc., be left for any length, to prevent mosquitoes' breeding.

Another serious health threat during the summer, especially in Oklahoma, is tickborne illnesses. Hundreds of cases of these diseases, like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, are reported in Oklahoma each year, and in 2009 two deaths resulted from these illnesses.

For anyone hiking, camping, working in the yard or doing any outdoor activities, the Health Department recommends taking several precautions against ticks, including wearing long sleeves and pants and closed-toe shoes and applying insect repellant with DEET. Individuals should check themselves for ticks every day.

Tickborne illnesses can be easy to treat if caught early, so pay attention to symptoms like fever, severe headache, vomiting, muscle or abdominal pain, rash or swelling lymph nodes.

The Tulsa Heath Department has plenty of information regarding WNV and tickborne diseases for Fourth of July adventurers as well as anyone going outside this summer on its website: www.tulsa-health.org.