The Woodward News

Local News

August 1, 2012

West Nile Virus showing up in state

Woodward, Okla. — A West Nile Virus (WNV) case has been identified in Garfield County, as the disease continues to make a resurgence throughout the state.

Terri Salisbury, administrative director for the Woodward County Health Department, is warning residents to take precautions against the mosquito-borne illness this summer.

Salisbury said now is a high-risk period for exposure to WNV, as many people are outdoors enjoying summer activities and increasing the chance they could be bitten by an infected mosquito.

There were a total of 8 WNV cases reported statewide as of Tuesday.  Along with the Garfield County infection, incidences numbered 4 in Tulsa County, 2 in Pittsburg County and 1 in Carter County.

HISTORY IN WOODWARD COUNTY

Lanette Kerry, a district nursing manager with the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), said, going back to 2000, the records indicate the first year a WNV infection was documented in Woodward County was 2003, when there were 2 cases.

One of the worse years for the disease was in 2007, when Kerry said there were 8 fatalities from West Nile Virus across the state.

To protect patients' privacy, Kerry said she couldn't provide information about whether any of those fatalities were in Woodward County.  She said since the number who died is considered relatively small by OSDH, revealing a total specifically for a county could lead to identification of a victim.

However, she did say that in 2007, 3 persons in Woodward County contracted the virus.

Oklahoma State Department of Health records, at ok.gov/health, indicate the last occurrence of WNV in Woodward County was a single case in 2008.

SIGNS OF INFECTION

Salisbury notes that people who contract WNV illness may experiences symptoms including a sudden fever, headache, dizziness, muscle aches and are prone to be confused.

"They also may have extreme muscle weakness and paralysis of a limb," she said. "Persons over age 50 are at the greatest risk of developing a severe neurological WNV-related disease, and some of those effects could be permanent or even fatal."

If any of the symptoms develop within 2 weeks of a mosquito bite, a health care provider should be contacted, Salisbury said.

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