The West Nile Virus Confirmed in Tulsa County

Jul 12, 2012

Tulsa Health Department officials have confirmed that mosquitoes in Tulsa County have begun to test positive for West Nile virus. At the same time, the Tulsa Health Department was notified today that a Tulsa County resident has been diagnosed with West Nile virus. The individual diagnosed with West Nile virus is a male over the age of 65.  

"We know that West Nile virus is a seasonal threat and we encourage the community to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites." stated Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart. The Tulsa Health Department wants to remind the public to take precautions against West Nile virus . The months of July through October are typically the highest risk months for exposure to WNV in Oklahoma. 

West Nile virus is spread through the bite of the Culex mosquito, which feeds on infected birds and then transmits the virus when biting humans, horses, and some other mammals. Symptoms of WNV include sudden onset of fever, headache, dizziness, and muscle weakness. Long-lasting complications can include difficulty concentrating, migraine headaches, extreme muscle weakness and tremors, and paralysis of a limb. If one or more of these symptoms develop, especially after suffering mosquito bites within the previous two weeks, a health care provider should be contacted. Persons over the age of 50 are at greatest risk of developing severe neurologic disease from WNV infection. Some of the neurological effects of WNV may be permanent.

Among the precautions to take against mosquito bites are the following:

  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors, particularly if you are outside between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are more likely to bite. (Insect repellent with permethrin should be used on clothing only.)
  • Repair or install window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
  • Prevent items such as buckets, cans, pool covers, flower pots, and tires from holding standing water so mosquitoes don’t have a place to breed.
  • Empty your pet’s outdoor water bowl and refill daily.
  • Clean leaves and debris from rain gutters regularly to ensure they are not clogged.

The Tulsa Health Department operates a mosquito surveillance program using mosquito traps in various locations throughout Tulsa County in order to confirm when West Nile virus is present in the community. The Tulsa Health Department also works to control mosquito populations during the spring and summer. In a typical mosquito season, THD sprays over 800 square miles for adult mosquitoes. To place a complaint about mosquitoes in your area, please call 918-595-4219.