West Nile claims life in Stephens County

West Nile claims life in Stephens County

DUNCAN, Okla._Stephens County Health Department officials have confirmed a person has died after being infected with West Nile virus.

Health officials say the victim was over the age of 65. The person is the second person to die from the virus in the state this year. The first death was reported earlier this month in Carter County, in southeast Oklahoma. So far, there have been a total of 19 reported West Nile cases.

West Nile virus is not over. Mosquitoes usually remain active until October, so health officials are urging everyone to continue to using extra precautions while being outdoors.

Tiffany Dennis, the coordinating nurse at the Stephens County Health Department, says 80 percent of people who are infected with the virus never show any type of symptoms. Those who do, develop West Nile fever and 20 percent of those can be severe.

"The people who do have the neurological disease and develop those type of symptoms are hospitalized usually and under supportive care," Dennis said.

Dennis says in cases that severe, it can lead to death. She says there is no way to keep the virus from spreading. Symptoms of the virus can include headache, nausea and fever. In the most severe cases, people can have severe headache, dizziness and even seizures.

"You know, we are in where the virus is. The activity is going on, yes it can happen, but again 80 percent of people don't even get sick," Dennis explained.

Health officials say there are four Ds to follow as a precaution: Don't go out at dawn or dusk, use DEET, dump outside water out and dress appropriately.

"People should follow those anyway when outside during the summer because there are other mosquitoes that can cause other diseases and viruses," Dennis said.

Dennis says the virus mostly affects adults over the age of 50. She says there have been some cases in children, but many never show any signs of the virus.

There is no vaccine for the virus. Dennis says if you have any symptoms to get to your medical provider immediately.