The Oklahoma State Department of Health is now reporting 127 confirmed cases statewide of the West Nile virus in 2012. 30 of those cases are in Tulsa County.
127 is a record number of West Nile cases in a single year in Oklahoma.
The previous record for Oklahoma West Nile virus cases was 107 in 2007.
The Oklahoma Health Department says eight people have died from the virus so far in 2012. The latest death is in Tulsa County.
State health officials are asking Oklahomans over the age of 65 and those who care for them to use special care as the most severe result of West Nile Virus, neuroinvasive disease, most often affects the elderly.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health suggests using an EPA-registered insect repellent such as those containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
Products with a higher percentage of DEET as an active ingredient generally give longer protection.
Permethrin sprayed on clothing provides protection through several washes, but the product should not be sprayed on skin.
Recently, IR3535 was approved as an active ingredient.
Regardless of what product you use, if insects are still biting, you should reapply the product according to label instructions, try a different product, or leave the area with biting insects.
The OSDH offered these insect repellent recommendations:
- Products containing up to 30 percent DEET can be used on children
- Use aerosols or pump sprays for skin and treating clothing because they provide even application
- Use liquids, creams, lotions, towelettes or sticks for more precise application to exposed skin, e.g., face or neck
- After your outdoor activity, wash repellent-treated skin with soap and water
- Don’t over apply or saturate skin or clothing
- Don’t apply to skin under clothing. Don’t apply more frequently than directed on the product label
The OSDH also reminds Oklahomans to empty those items in your yard that can hold standing water so mosquitoes don’t have a place to breed.
Birdbaths and animal watering areas should be cleaned and refilled every two to three days, or treated with mosquito dunks to kill mosquito larvae.
Finally, double check your window and door screens to make sure they are in good shape and can keep mosquitoes out.
About half of the cases reported are serious illnesses, and the Centers for Disease Control considers those the best indicator of West Nile activity because many mild cases do not get reported and their symptoms may not even be recognized.
Typical symptoms are fever, headache and body aches and most people get better on their own in a few days.
Less than one percent develop neurological symptoms such as stiff necks and even coma and paralysis.
Health officials think that West Nile activity will peak in mid-to-late August, but likely will continue through October.
Because symptoms can take two weeks to appear, reporting cases lags behind when people became infected.
The disease first appeared in the United States in 1999.
Officials say this year's early spring and hot summer may have contributed to the current boom in cases.
Mosquitoes get the virus from feeding on infected birds and then spread the virus to people they bite.