The Edmond Sun

State News

July 17, 2012

West Nile Virus detected in Pittsburg County

McALESTER — A case of West Nile virus confirmed in Pittsburg County is one of only two cases found statewide so far this year. The other case is in Tulsa County.

“Right now, it’s the only two counties we’re aware of,” said Becky Coffman, an epidemiologist at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The individual with the confirmed case of West Nile virus in Pittsburg County has been identified by the health department only as a man “in the age 65 or older category,” Coffman said.

While it’s not unheard of to have cases of West Nile virus found in Oklahoma in July, it is still early in the season, noted Pittsburg County Health Department Administrator Mike Echelle.

With only one case of West Nile virus reported in the entire state in 2011, the number of confirmed cases in Oklahoma has already doubled when compared to last year.

“We’re certainly wanting people to be warned about West Nile,” Echelle said.

Citing privacy concerns, Coffman said the health department would not release what part of Pittsburg County the man who has a confirmed case of West Nile virus is from, or even if he’s still in the hospital.

“West Nile virus is a virus that’s prevalent in our county,” Echelle said. “We’re going to have to contend with it every year. Individuals need to take precautions.”

In the decade that’s passed since confirmation that the illness had spread to Oklahoma in 2002, there have been 329 cases of the illness and 20 deaths reported in the state, according to the health department.

West Nile virus is spread by the bite of the Culex mosquito. The mosquito feeds on birds infected with the virus and then transmits the virus by biting humans, horses, as well as some other mammals, a health department report stated.

One of the best protections is prevention, according to health officials.

“The most dangerous time to be out is at dusk and dawn,” Coffman said.

“If you’re out at dusk or dawn, wear long sleeves.”

Use a mosquito or insect repellent that contains DEET, Echelle advised. Insect repellent with permethrin should be used on clothing only, according to the health department.

Coffman also urged individuals to make sure there is no free-standing water around, such as in containers, cans, buckets or even disposable cups.

“Empty your animal’s water every day,” she suggested.

Also make sure window screens are in good repair, Coffman added — meaning make sure there are no openings big enough for mosquitoes to crawl through.

For those who have bird baths, ornamental ponds, fountains, or other items with water, a larvicide is available from most home improvement stores, according to Echelle and Coffman. The larvicides are designed to get rid of the mosquito larvae, but animals and birds can still drink the water, they said.

Leaves and other debris should be regularly cleared from rain gutters to make sure they are not clogged, health personnel advised.

Referring to the steps to reduce the threat of standing water and other precautions, Coffman said every resident should be doing this.

“These mosquitoes don’t fly great distances,” she said.

Those who are aged 50 or older face the greatest danger of complications from West Nile virus, according to the health department.

The strongest symptoms include a sudden onset of fever, headache, dizziness, and muscle weakness, according to information from the health department. More long-lasting complications can include difficulty concentrating, migraine headaches, extreme muscle weakness and tremors, and paralysis of a limb, the health department stated.

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.

“If you have an illness, with a fever, mention it to the doctor if there are mosquito bites,” Coffman advised.

With individuals over the age of 50 at greatest risk of developing severe neurologic disease from WNV infection, some of the neurological effects may be permanent, according to the health department.

While some may experience strong symptoms, others may not.

“It has a wide spectrum, from no symptoms at all, to light symptoms to those as severe as the flu,” Coffman said.

The strongest symptoms can be neuro invasive,” she said.

While no vaccination is available for humans, there are vaccines for horses, mules and donkeys.

“Horses, mules and donkeys are highly susceptible to West Nile,” Echelle said.

Those who own horses or the other equine animals may want to contact their veterinarian regarding vaccinations, Echelle advised.

Coffman said some experts are attributing the confirmation of cases of West Nile virus so early in the season to the fact that Oklahoma had such a mild winter.

CONTACT James Beaty at

Text Only
State News
  • GooGooDolls.jpg Coming in August: The Goo Goo Dolls

    Enid Event Center books yet another big-name music attraction.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Civil War the theme at Heritage Center Family Saturday

    The event will be 1-3 p.m. Saturday and is free with admission to the museum.

    April 16, 2014

  • MS_injection well.jpg Agency clarifies earthquake-related misinformation

    A state agency says misinformation related to the debate about the cause of more earthquakes across Central Oklahoma includes oil well types, well numbers and injection pressure.
    The Prague sequence of 2011 along the Wilzetta Fault zone included a significant foreshock, a main shock of magnitude 5.7 and numerous aftershocks. It has been suggested that this sequence represents tremors triggered by fluid injection.
    More recently, earthquakes have been recorded in the vicinity of Jones, Arcadia Lake, Edmond, Guthrie, Langston and Crescent. Regulators and scientists are working together to better understand what’s causing all the shaking.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff seeks items for agency history project

    If you have historic pictures or artifacts related to the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, the agency is asking the public to share them.
    “The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office is working on a history project. If you, your family, friends or acquaintances have any old photos or artifacts related to the OCSO we would love to have them or a digital copy,” said Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel.

    April 16, 2014

  • History_Tour_5_BH.jpg History tours begin May 17

    Downtown Enid will be the scene of Chisholm Trail Coalition Walking Tours

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • New study counters pot legalization argument

    A new study raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences, a researcher says.
    Researchers say the findings suggest recreational marijuana use may lead to previously unidentified brain changes and highlight the importance of research aimed at understanding the long-term effects of low to moderate marijuana use on the brain.

    April 15, 2014

  • brisket2.jpg Food Network show visits Guthrie for ’89er Days

    Guthrie’s annual ’89er Days Celebration provides a variety of activities for people to enjoy including a carnival, rodeo, parade and lots of food vendors.
    This year, visitors at the 84th annual event, which runs Tuesday through Saturday, will notice an added bonus when a film crew from the new television series “Carnival Eats” will be in town filming for its inaugural episode.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • OCSP-Family and Treasurer-04-15-2014.jpg Treasurer Miller awards ‘Tax Day Baby’ with college savings plan

    April 15 is commonly known as the day many will spend in line at the post office or finishing final preparations for tax returns. This year, one Oklahoma family spent April 15, tax day, welcoming their new son, born at 2:07 a.m. and was recognized as the first Tax Day Baby at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City. 
    As the first Tax Day Baby, State Treasurer Ken Miller, R-Edmond, awarded, Quan Ta, with an Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan worth $1,529. Miller, who serves as board chairman for the OCSP, reminds parents and grandparents that any contribution made to an OCSP account by April 15 qualified for a 2013 Oklahoma income tax deduction.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Candidate filing period ends

    From the U.S. Congress to the Oklahoma House, several incumbents are hoping to hold onto their jobs in the 2014 elections.

    April 15, 2014

  • SPICER.jpg 5 suspects face charges in Edmond home assault

    A resident was silent while he was kicked repeatedly in his ribs and head during last week’s assault in an Edmond home, court records show.
    Jenny Monroe, spokeswoman for the Edmond Police Department, said five individuals arrested in recent days appear to be the extent of the suspects in the incident. Monroe said the victim, 64, is back at home after he was transported to a metro hospital.
    The five suspects according to the Edmond Police Department and Oklahoma County records are:

    April 14, 2014 5 Photos