As of  mid-August, there were fewer cases of West Nile Virus in the state than in previous years, but Carter County Health Department Administrative Director Mendy Spohn said that is no reason for people to let their guards down.


As of  mid-August, there were fewer cases of West Nile Virus in the state than in previous years, but Carter County Health Department Administrative Director Mendy Spohn said that is no reason for people to let their guards down.


“It is very easy to forget it is still an issue,” she said.


Spohn said the risk of WNV continues through October in Oklahoma.


As of Aug. 23, there were six confirmed cases of West Nile in the state so far this year. A single confirmed case of the virus has been reported in Carter County. Last year, there were 107 cases of WNV reported in Oklahoma and eight deaths.


The symptoms of WNV are usually mild and include fever, headaches, dizziness and muscle weakness, Humans and animals contract the virus from the bites of infected mosquitoes, which pick up the disease when they feed on infected birds. Spohn said the virus appears to be worse when the state experiences a hot, dry summer.


Although less than 20 percent of the people bitten by an infected mosquito experience any sickness, a WNV infection can cause severe and sometimes fatal illness. Those over 50 are at the greatest risk of becoming seriously ill. Research indicates people who have received an organ transplant or who are diabetic are also at increased risk.


“Many people who contract West Nile virus develop life-changing complications after the initial course of the disease,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley said.


The Oklahoma State Department of Health recommends applying an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus when enjoying outdoor activities, especially during early morning and evening hours.


Ardmore Street Superintendent Don Olive said the city started its annual mosquito abatement program in May.


“We have an employee who works from 3 to 11 p.m. who sprays for mosquitoes,” he said.


The city also regularly tests water samples collected from several locations around the city for the virus.