West Nile Virus Arrives in Comanche County

Don't Forget to Wear Insect Repellent with DEET

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has announced that Comanche County now has two confirmed cases of West Nile Virus. Two other possible cases are being currently investigated. The confirmed cases are from people who live in Lawton.

There are 30 human cases reported statewide as well as 3 deaths statewide, as of August 30, 2007.  In 2006 there were 6 deaths and 48 human cases reported to OSDH, and in 2005, there were 31 human cases of WNV and 1 death.

August through October are the highest risk months for exposure to WNV in our state. "We want the citizens of Comanche County - especially those over the age of 50 - to take extra precautions now, namely using an insect repellent with DEET when outdoors," said Karen Mahan, administrative director for the Comanche County Health Department.

"The best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites," said Mahan.

Begin mosquito prevention activities around your home and work place by practicing the "4 D's of Defense" against WNV, which include the following:

  • Dusk and dawn - Wear repellent if outdoors during these prime times for mosquito activity.
  • Dress - Wear long pants, long sleeves and closed toe shoes when outside to cover the skin.
  • DEET - Use an insect repellent containing DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) when outdoors and reapply according to directions.
  • Drain - Drain those items that collect standing water around your home, yard or business. Scrub and refill pet water dishes and bird baths regularly.

Because virus-carrying mosquitoes can also get indoors, check door and window screens and repair any tears or gaps. Clean out leaves and other debris in rain gutters to keep them flowing freely. Fix leaky faucets or irrigation spouts, and adequately maintain pools.

The health threat from WNV in Oklahoma began five years ago when the first WNV- carrying mosquitoes arrived in the state. "Any person that is bitten by an infected mosquito can develop West Nile disease, but older adults are more likely to develop serious, life-threatening disease," Mahan emphasized.

WNV is transmitted primarily by Culex mosquitoes. These mosquitoes pick up the virus when they feed on infected birds, and then spread the virus when they bite humans, horses and some other mammals. Culex mosquitoes are most active during the evening and early morning hours.

Common symptoms of West Nile disease include fever, intense headache, extreme tiredness, muscle weakness, and dizziness. Persons with West Nile encephalitis, the most serious form of WNV disease, may rapidly progress to mental confusion, difficulty walking, and coma.

Horse owners are reminded to contact their veterinarian for information on how to protect their horses from WNV through vaccination. There is no vaccine yet for humans.

For more information about WNV, visit these Web sites: