THD Mosquito Surveillance Program Detects Mosquitoes Carrying West Nile Virus
TULSA, OK - [June 7, 2016] – Tulsa Health Department officials confirmed that samples of mosquitoes from several traps throughout Tulsa County have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). It is important for residents to remember to take precautions against WNV and other mosquito borne illness. At this time, there have been no confirmed cases of WNV in humans in Tulsa County this year.
The months of July through October are typically the highest risk months for exposure to WNV in Oklahoma, however THD proactively begins a mosquito surveillance program each May.
“Our mosquito surveillance program is vigilant in testing for West Nile virus,” said Bernard Dindy, Tulsa Health Department environmental health services program manager. “But more importantly, we work proactively to control the mosquito population by larviciding to kill the eggs before they become adults. We routinely test 50-60 pools weekly, and once a positive sample is identified we are aggressive in implementing mosquito control methods in the area and informing the public so they can protect themselves.”
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. Long-lasting complications can include difficulty concentrating, migraine headaches, extreme muscle weakness and tremors, and paralysis of a limb. If one or more of these symptoms develop, especially after suffering mosquito bites within the previous two weeks, a health care provider should be contacted. Persons over the age of 50 are at greatest risk of developing severe neurologic disease from WNV infection. Some of the neurological effects of WNV may be permanent.
“The Zika virus seems to dominate the headlines right now, but at this time there have been no locally transmitted cases of Zika in the contiguous United States,” said Dindy. “Historically speaking, we have seen human cases of West Nile virus disease in Tulsa County, some of which have resulted in death. Therefore we can’t stress enough how important it is to take steps to prevent mosquitos and protect your family from mosquito borne illnesses.”
Among the precautions to take against mosquito bites are the following:
- 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.
- 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 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.
- Empty your pet’s outdoor water bowl and refill daily.
- Clean leaves and debris from rain gutters regularly to ensure they are not clogged.
The Tulsa Health Department operates a mosquito surveillance program in order to confirm when West Nile virus is present in the community. Special mosquito traps are set in various locations throughout Tulsa County. Samples are collected and tested weekly for the presence of WNV. The Tulsa Health Department also works to control mosquito populations during the spring and summer. In a typical mosquito season, THD sprays hundreds of square miles for adult mosquitoes.
The objective of the surveillance is to detect the presence of mosquitoes, determine abundance, species, make a risk assessment, and provide a basis for control. Control methods include larviciding and adulticiding when necessary.
To place a complaint about mosquitoes in your area, please call 918-595-4219. To report standing or stagnant water in your area, please call 918-595-4200 or submit an online environmental complaint form on the Tulsa Health Department website at www.tulsa-health.org.
The 2016 mosquito season by the numbers:
7 trap samples tested positive for West Nile Virus
37 trap samples have been tested so far this season
7,600* mosquitoes collected for testing *approximately
0 human cases of WNV in Tulsa County
0 human case of WNV in Oklahoma
View the latest map of West Nile Virus Positive Trap Locations (map last updated June 6, 2016)