OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Mary Fallin is joining with state and local public health officials to raise awareness of West Nile virus and the steps Oklahomans should take to protect themselves from the mosquito-borne illness.
“West Nile virus is a serious disease that can be life-altering or even fatal,” said Fallin. “Many of our fellow Oklahomans are now hospitalized with West Nile virus. Even though we are early into the season, at least 61 cases and three deaths have been reported in Oklahoma. The best way to prevent West Nile virus is to avoid mosquito bites.”
Fallin urged Oklahomans to “fight the bite” by taking personal precautions to reduce the risk of mosquito bites, including using insect repellent when going outdoors, installing or repairing screens on windows and doors, and emptying standing water from items outside the home like buckets, cans, flower pots, and tires so mosquitoes have no place to breed. Bird baths and outdoor pet water bowls should be emptied and refilled daily and leaves and debris should be cleaned from gutters to ensure they are not clogged.
“This disease has hit Oklahomans hard this year and unfortunately, those who seem to be most at risk are older citizens. If you know persons who might be at particular risk, such as parents or grandparents over age 50, please check with them to make certain they are taking precautions,” Fallin emphasized. “In addition, anyone spending significant time outdoors must also make certain to use insect repellent and carry it with them for reapplication if necessary. Oklahomans are or will soon be gearing up for night-time outdoor activities like high school football games, athletic practices, lakeside camping, gardening and evening jogs. Farmers and those who work outside are particularly susceptible to the disease. Everyone in these circumstances must be sure to take proper precautions.”