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State/Region

August 15, 2013

First West Nile case in Okla. confirmed

OKLAHOMA CITY — A female resident of Oklahoma County has been diagnosed with the first confirmed case of West Nile virus in the state in 2013, health officials said Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, Cynthia McGough, said the West Nile case was confirmed Wednesday in a female aged 10-19. McGough said the patient is being treated for the virus at an area hospital.

A spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Health, Leslie Bennett-Webb, said it is the first confirmed case of West Nile virus in the state so far this year.

McGough said state health officials are investigating how the patient was infected with the mosquito-borne illness. Officials say the first mosquitoes to be confirmed as carrying the potentially deadly virus in Oklahoma this year were found in Tulsa County.

The virus was first recorded in Oklahoma in 2002 with 15 cases, jumping to 79 cases in 2003. The number fell to 19 in 2004 and rose to a then-record 98 cases and nine deaths in 2007. The numbers then dropped to nine cases in both 2008 and 2009.

There had been eight confirmed cases of the disease in Oklahoma by the end of July 2012, and more than 30 by mid-August, on the way to a record number of 178 cases for the year. Fifteen of those people died, also a state record.

Culex mosquitoes, which tend to thrive in stagnant water, contract the virus from infected birds and pass it along to humans through their bites.

Officials are Oklahomans to take extra precautions against the illness by avoiding mosquito bites and reducing habitats where mosquitoes live and breed. Officials recommend emptying buckets, cans, pool covers, flower pots and tires that can hold standing water.

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