OKLAHOMA CITY – The West Nile Virus claimed its first fatality in Oklahoma, the state Department of Health confirmed on Thursday.

The first human case, and death in 2022, caused by West Nile Virus was a Central Oklahoma resident.

“We expect the number of human cases to increase as the temperatures rise throughout the summer,” said Jolianne Stone, the State Epidemiologist in a prepared statement. “Typically, summertime is the beginning of the (virus) season in Oklahoma, so with more people participating in outdoor activities there are increased opportunities for encountering infected mosquitoes.”

The virus spreads through the bite of an infected mosquito.

In Oklahoma, the virus is primarily spread by the Culex mosquito, which feeds on infected birds and then spreads the virus when biting humans, horses, and some other mammals.

This type of mosquito increases in abundance during mid to late summer when temperatures are high, and the weather pattern is dry.

Symptoms, are often mild and may include sudden fever, headache, dizziness, or muscle weakness.

Recovery typically occurs within one to three weeks.

Tips to avoid mosquito bites and prevent WNV:

•            Use an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin and clothing when going outdoors, particularly between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are more likely to bite. Insect repellent with permethrin should be used on clothing only.

•            Repair or install window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of the home.

•            Prevent items such as buckets, cans, pool covers, flower pots, children’s toys, and tires from holding water to prevent providing mosquitoes a place to breed.

•            Empty pet’s outdoor water bowl and refill daily.

•            Scrub and refill bird baths every three days.

•            Clean leaves and debris from rain gutters regularly to ensure they are not clogged.