Oklahoma officials have reported the state's first human case this year of West Nile Virus and one local county is now urging residents to exercise caution.
The LeFlore County Health Department is urging residents to take the extra precautions due to a reported case in Oklahoma County, in the central part of the state.
"We want to remind everyone to use insect repellent when outdoors and mosquito-proof their home and yard," said LeFlore County Health Department Administrative Director William Pierson in a press release.
According to the LeFlore County Health Department, there were 176 cases of West Nile confirmed last year in the state of Oklahoma, resulting in 15 deaths. The ages of those infected ranged from 1 to 93 years old, they said.
"Anyone can be bitten by a mosquito and acquire WNV," Pierson said. "Although we cannot predict the severity of this year's WNV season, it is important for everyone to know the highest risk months in Oklahoma for WNV exposure occur from July through October. We urge everyone to protect themselves now against mosquito bites."
He said repellents with DEET should be applied to exposed skin when outdoors. Additionally, broken window and door screens should be repaired to keep mosquitos out of homes while items such as buckets, pool covers and other items that hold water should be placed in areas where they will not collect standing water and breed mosquitoes. Re-filling water bowls for pets and cleaning out rain gutters are encouraged, as well.
The disease is spread by mosquitos who have bitten infected birds and then go on to bite humans and other mammals, spreading the disease, according to the health department. Symptoms of West Nile include fever, headache, dizziness and muscle weakness. Other, more serious symptoms, can develop and should be treated by a doctor if symptoms worsen following a mosquito bite within the previous two weeks. Individuals over the age of 50 are at greatest risk of contracting the virus.