West Nile virus

Culex pipiens (the common house mosquito) is a species of blood-feeding mosquito of the family Culicidae. It is a vector of some diseases, such as Japanese encephalitis, meningitis, and urticaria. In the US, it can spread West Nile virus.
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Oklahoma health officials say the state's first two cases of West Nile virus this year were not transmitted by bites from the type of mosquitoes that thrive in massive floodwaters like the kind that covered the state the past month.

Tulsa Health Department epidemiologist Nicole Schlaefli says the variety of mosquito that breeds in floodwaters, the Aedes, is mainly a nuisance and not a carrier of the disease.

She says bites from another type of the insect, the Culex mosquito, likely caused the West Nile cases.

mosquito on fabric
Tom / Flickr

Parts of Oklahoma have seen more than a dozen inches of rainfall over past two weeks, and saturated ground conditions have led to a lot of standing water where it normally wouldn’t pool. That means more mosquitoes, and the potential health concerns the insects carry.

Some low-lying areas are still flooded after the recent May storms, and standing water in nutrient-rich soil is a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. 

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Public health authorities announced Wednesday that the potentially fatal West Nile virus is now present in Oklahoma County mosquitoes.

An Oklahoma City-County Health Department spokesman confirmed a mosquito population is infected. There haven't been human infections reported in the county.

Only two people have been infected statewide this year. The cases were reported in Tulsa and Major counties.

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Health officials in Tulsa have confirmed a second human case of the potentially fatal West Nile virus in Oklahoma this year.

The Tulsa Health Department confirmed the case on Thursday. The first confirmed case was in July in Major County.

Few details about the persons infected have been released, other than the person infected in Major County is over the age of 50. A Tulsa County health official did not immediately return a phone call seeking further comment.

There were 84 cases of West Nile virus in Oklahoma last year, including eight deaths.

Three Horses Near Turley, Oklahoma
Oakley Originals / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma horse owners are being encouraged to vaccinate their animals against the potentially deadly West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis diseases.

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry reports about 40 cases in each of the past two years in which horses in the state have been infected with the diseases.

The diseases are often carried by birds and transferred to mosquitoes, which spread the viruses through bites to both horses and humans.

While there are vaccines for horses there are, as yet, no vaccines for humans.

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The Oklahoma Department of Health says three more people have died from the West Nile virus.

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The first mosquitoes of 2013 confirmed to be carrying the West Nile virus have been found in Oklahoma. 

The Tulsa County Health Department said Thursday that a sampling of mosquitoes in Tulsa County have tested positive for the potentially deadly virus.

State health officials say there have been no confirmed cases of the virus in humans this year. There were a record 178 cases and 15 deaths in 2012.