TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Health Department officials confirmed a sample of mosquitoes from a trap in Tulsa County tested positive for West Nile virus.
Officials said it is important to take precautions against WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses. There are no confirmed cases of WNV in humans in Tulsa County so far this year.
Mosquitoes can transmit diseases like the West Nile virus, so public health officials strongly encourage the use of insect repellent containing DEET.
THD operates a nationally recognized mosquito surveillance program in order to confirm when mosquito-borne illnesses is present. Mosquito traps are set weekly in various locations throughout Tulsa County. Samples are collected and tested weekly for the presence of mosquito-borne illnesses.
The months of July through October are typically the highest risk months for exposure to WNV in Oklahoma, THD begins a mosquito surveillance program each May.
“We start setting traps as part of our surveillance program in early May to monitor for West Nile virus, and to identify any positive mosquitoes as early as possible,” said Mandy Dixon, vector control coordinator. “Our mosquito control program recognizes the importance of preventing mosquito-borne illness by educating the public on bite prevention and identifying and dumping any standing water. THD is prepared to act in the affected areas as soon as weather conditions allow.”
West Nile virus is spread through the bite of an infected 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.
“There have been positive mosquito tests in previous years as well as human cases of West Nile virus disease in Tulsa County, unfortunately, some of those people have died of the illness,” said Dixon. “It is important to take steps to prevent mosquitos from biting you and your family. Prevention is easy with these steps.”
Precautions to take against mosquito bites are the following:
- Dump and drain items such as buckets, cans, pool covers, flower pots, and tires from holding standing water so mosquitoes don’t have a place to breed.
- Use an insect repellent containing DEET or other CDC-approved repellents 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.)
- Wearing long sleeves and long pants that are loose-fitting and made of light colors.
- Repair or install window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
- Encourage your friends and neighbors to dump and drain and to use repellents.
- Clean leaves and debris from rain gutters regularly to ensure they are not clogged.
To place a complaint about mosquitoes in your area or to report standing or stagnant water in your area, please call 918-582-9355 or submit an online environmental complaint form on the Tulsa Health Department website.
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