County health officials urge West Nile Virus prevention

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The first case of West Nile virus in Oklahoma has now been reported.

Osage County Health Department officials encourage Osage County residents to take precautions to reduce the risk of contracting WNV, a mosquito-borne illness.

“We want to remind everyone to use insect repellent when outdoors and mosquito-proof their home and yard,” said Osage County Health Department Administrative Director Mary Beth Murray.

Oklahoma experienced a record year of WNV activity last year; 176 cases of WNV were confirmed among Oklahoma residents, including 15 deaths. During 2012, cases ranged in age from 1 to 93 years.

“Anyone can be bitten by a mosquito and acquire WNV,” said Murray. “… It is important for everyone to know the highest risk months in Oklahoma for WNV exposure occur from July through October.”

Precautions include:

• Use an insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors, particularly if you are outside between dusk and dawn when WNV-infected mosquitoes are more likely to bite. (Insect repellent with permethrin should be used on clothing only.)

• Repair or install window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home.

• Prevent items such as buckets, cans, pool covers, flower pots, and tires from holding standing water so mosquitoes don’t have a place to breed.

• Empty your pet’s outdoor water bowl and refill daily.

• Clean leaves and debris from rain gutters regularly to ensure they are not clogged.

For more, contact the Osage County Health Department at (918) 287-3740, or visit the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s WNV website at