The Norman Transcript

Opinion

June 18, 2013

Summertime warnings

NORMAN — State and local health departments are sending out summer activity warnings. In recent weeks, we’ve received rabies, mosquito and teen driver warnings.

On rabies, the health department says it has been notified of 41 cases of rabies in Oklahoma thus far this year. Those include 25 skunks, nine cows, five dogs, one horse and one fox. (The fox was in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area last week.)

Officials recommend vaccination shots for dogs, cats and ferrets. They are required from the time an animal is four months old.

Shots also are available and recommended for sheep, horses and cattle. The earliest visible symptoms of the rabies virus in animals include aggression or very passive behavior.

On mosquitoes, Cleveland County said Oklahoma had a record year for West Nile Virus. There were 178 cases confirmed among Oklahomans, including 15 deaths. No cases have been reported thus far in 2013. Health officials recommend an insect repellent containing DEET on any exposed skin, especially if you are outside between dusk and dawn.

Other precautions include repairing or installing window and door screens. Prevent standing water so mosquitoes don’t have a place to breed. Empty and refill pet water bowls daily, and clean leaves and debris from rain gutters.

Lastly, health department officials say traffic crashes, the leading cause of death among teens, increases in summer months. Travel to and from summer jobs and social activities have more teens on the road and at risk. Teens also lack the experience needed to be more cautious on the road. 

In Oklahoma, nearly 4,600 teens — ages 16 to 19 — were injured, and 55 died from motor vehicle injuries in 2010.

Authorities recommend teens take time to buckle up, watch their speed, don’t drink and drive, focus on the road, follow curfew and limit the number of passengers. Teens also should not drive too late in the evening. The fatal crash rate of 16-year-olds is nearly twice as high at night.

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