In 2007, the Oklahoma State Department of Health has documented 73 human cases of West Nile virus. Five people have died, one of those an Ottawa County resident.

Although Oklahoma has begun to experience fall-like weather, health officials say that it does not mean Oklahomans no longer need to be concerned about protecting themselves against the threat of virus.

“We urge everyone to continue to practice mosquito prevention activities around your home and workplace,” said Jane Ann Nichols, Ottawa County Health Department administrative director.

Nichols also recommends the 𔄜 Ds of Defense” for mosquito bite protection. That includes:

€ Dusk and Dawn - Wear repellent if outdoors during these prime times for mosquito activity.

€ Dress - Wear long pants, long sleeves and closed toe shoes when outside to cover the skin.

€ DEET - Use an insect repellent containing DEET when outdoors and reapply according to directions.

€ Drain - Drain those items that collect standing water around your home, yard or business. Scrub and refill pet water dishes and bird baths regularly.

West Nile virus is transmitted primarily by Culex mosquitoes. These mosquitoes are most active during the evening and early morning hours and can enter homes through open windows or doors.

“If you're opening your doors and windows now to let in the cool night air, make sure screens are in good repair so mosquitoes cannot enter your home,” Nichols said.

Common symptoms of West Nile disease include fever, intense headache, extreme tiredness, muscle weakness and dizziness. Persons with West Nile encephalitis, the most serious form of West Nile disease, may rapidly progress to mental confusion and difficulty walking.