West Nile virus claims three lives in Oklahoma

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- The death toll from the West Nile virus continues to grow in Oklahoma.

Thursday the State Health Department confirmed three people have now died from the virus.

Health officials predict a record-breaking year for the virus.

The number of West Nile cases we're seeing this year is the highest since 2007.

"We did issue the public health warning because we're on track for the most severe West Nile season on record," Okla. Health Department's Dr. Kristy Bradley said.

Back in 2007, the state experienced a record outbreak of West Nile activity with 107 cases reported including eight deaths.

So far in 2012, there have been 61 cases with three deaths but even those numbers are misleading.

"Our suspicion is this is just the tip of the iceberg of when the illness is occurring," Bradley said. "When we look where we were in Aug. 2007, we've outpacing that by about two-fold. It does seem simple to say 'use repellant' but personal protection is the key here."

Two of the three deaths have come in Oklahoma County, the third in Seminole County.

All the victims have been over the age of 80.

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