First possible West Nile virus human case of season reported in Oklahoma County


File photo of a mosquito

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma County resident is currently in a hospital after being tested for West Nile virus.

The Oklahoma City-County Health Department (OCCHD) reported the possible West Nile case in a news release issued Tuesday afternoon.

If testing confirms that the patient has the virus, it will be the first case of West Nile in Oklahoma County for the 2020 West Nile virus season, which starts in May and lasts until the first or second weather freeze, usually in October, said Ken Johnson, Strategic Communications Coordinator for OCCHD.

A patient who tests positive for West Nile virus (WNV) does not have to be quarantined, according to Johnson.

“There’s no quarantining. It’s just a matter of them getting past all that. We certainly advise the home owner to look around their home and make sure there are no sources of West Nile, [such as] standing water,” Johnson said.

The virus is most commonly spread when an infected mosquito bites a person.

“People should be aware that by minimizing the exposure to mosquitoes and taking additional preventative measures, the risk and chances of becoming infected are reduced,” said OCCHD Epidemiologist Cynthia Bates.

Most people who contract the virus do not develop symptoms.

“About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness,” the news release states.

Mild symptoms include sudden fever, headache, dizziness and muscle weakness.

Serious symptoms include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.

Symptoms typically appear within three to 15 days of being bitten, according to OCCHD.

There is currently no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment for WNV infection.

“If you are concerned about any symptoms you or a family member are experiencing, see your health care provider,” the news release states.

Here are some tips from OCCHD on how to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites:

  • DRAIN standing water around your home, yard, and neighborhood
  • DUSK and DAWN are the times of day you should try to stay indoors; this is when mosquitoes are most active
  • DRESS in long sleeves and pants when you’re outside, and spray thin clothing with repellent
  • DEFEND yourself by using an insect repellent that contains DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus

There were no human cases of West Nile virus in Oklahoma County during the 2019 season, according to Johnson.


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