West Nile cases pick up in state

File photo.
Ken Milam
News Editor

Recent wet weather has produced a bumper crop of mosquitoes in the area.

Usually little more than a nuisance, certain mosquitos can carry the more serious risk of West Nile virus.

Cases of the virus appear to be picking up in Oklahoma, although no cases have been confirmed in LeFlore or neighboring counties. The Oklahoma Department of Health reported this week that seven cases have been confirmed in Cleveland, Muskogee, Oklahoma (3) and Tulsa (2) counties. Two cases also have been reported in Arkansas, but Arkansas State Health Department did not say where those cases were reported.

The City of Poteau has an active mosquito spraying program underway this summer.

If it’s any comfort, state health officials said the type of mosquitoes that hatch after flooding are primarily species known as “nuisance mosquitoes.” They bite aggressively and cause lots of itchy bites, but are not typically involved with transmission of diseases.

Floodwater mosquito populations tend to die out three weeks after the rains stop and the sun dries out affected low lying areas.

The Culex species of mosquitoes are the primary carriers of West Nile virus. They tend to increase in mid to late summer when temperatures climb and the weather is drier. Oklahomans are at greatest risk of exposure to infected mosquitoes from July through October, the health department said.

According to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 200 cases of the illness have been reported nationwide so far this year.