Tulsa County Detects Early Case of West Nile Virus in Mosquito Sample

KTUL - June 3, 2024 5:39 am

On Friday, the Tulsa Health Department confirmed that a sample of mosquitoes tested positive for the West Nile Virus in Tulsa County.

According to the THD, July through October are typically the highest risk months for West Nile Virus exposure. Due to this risk, the health department begins mosquito surveillance in late April or May.

On their website, THD says, “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.”

Michael Morrison, the Vector Control Program Coordinator with the Tulsa Health Department, says, “We found a West Nile positive this week, that was our first one. It’s a little early in the season sometimes we’ll get one early in the season then we won’t see it again until August when it starts drying up and it’s had time to amplify within the population, the bird population.”

Last year, 33 traps tested positive for the West Nile Virus with the majority of positive tests falling between August and September.

Morrison says that the recent rain that Green Country has seen could be playing a role.

“We’ve also had a lot of rain events this season. Of course, the more water mosquitoes have the more breeding area they have. If you have standing water in your yard or you see it on the road and it stays there for a long period of time, long enough to stagnate then we can start having a problem because that’s going to be a breeding ground for mosquitoes,” Morrison said.

The mosquito surveillance program puts out 25 to 30 traps each week around Tulsa County to conduct weekly testing of the mosquito population.

Although there have not been any reported cases of human infection this year, Morrison says that protecting yourself is important when preventing the virus.

“We really want people to dump standing water. Remove any breeding habitat for mosquitoes that they could use. Protect your skin, so cover your skin you can wear long sleeves you can also treat yourself with some sort of EPA-approved insect deterrent,” Morrison said.


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