Cooler temps may increase West Nile virus exposure

September 4, 2012 Editorials Print Print

Seven new cases of West Nile virus have been reported as of Aug. 23, bringing the state total of cases this year to 72. Milder temperatures and rain in many parts of the state provide conditions that may cause increased risk of mosquito bites and the potential for WNV transmission.

“Now that our state’s extreme heat has lifted, more Oklahomans are likely to seek outdoor opportunities to enjoy the milder temperatures — attending school athletic events, working out in the yard, taking evening walks, or enjoying camping trips or excursions to the lake,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline.

“But with the … rain in many areas of the state, there are now more opportunities for standing water for mosquitoes to breed. I urge everyone to continue to use insect repellent when outdoors and keep a can in your car or travel bag for reapplication as necessary.”


Cline said late August and September are peak periods of WNV transmission in Oklahoma. The OSDH suggests using an EPA-registered insect repellent such as those containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Products with a higher percentage of DEET as an active ingredient generally give longer protection.

Permethrin sprayed on clothing provides protection through several washes, but the product should not be sprayed on skin. The OSDH offered these insect repellent recommendations:

• Products containing up to 30 percent DEET can be used on children.

• Use aerosols or pump sprays for skin and treating clothing because they provide even application. Use liquids, creams, lotions, towelettes or sticks for more precise application to exposed skin, e.g., face or neck.

• After your outdoor activity, wash repellent-treated skin with soap and water.

• Don’t overapply or saturate skin or clothing.

• Don’t apply to skin under clothing.

• Apply only as directed on the product label.

• Empty items in your yard that hold standing water so mosquitoes don’t have a place to breed, and double check your window and door screens to make sure they are in good shape and can keep mosquitoes out.

For more information, visit, or call your local county health department.

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