City of Miami officials said Friday that municipal workers would continue intense fogging for mosquitoes after learning an elderly resident had become infected with West Nile virus and died.
Thursday, before learning of the death of the 85-year-old man, City Manager Michael Spurgeon said he expected crews would cut back on mosquito eradication efforts that had been undertaken after record-setting precipitation in June and flooding of parts of the city along the Neosho River in early July.
That has changed with the report of the elderly man's death.
“We've ramped back up, said Tim Wilson, the city's public works superintendent. “We'll be fogging three and four nights a week for the next couple weeks anyway.
Wilson said city workers also place larvacide briquettes and granules in standing pools of water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water and that is where mosquito larvae spawn and grow to maturity.
Wilson said the city has been spending between $2,000 and $3,000 a week on mosquito eradication efforts since flood waters crested in Miami. A single fogging of the city costs about $700 and takes eight hours. City crews have also fogged for mosquitoes in nearby Commerce and in unincorporated areas just east and west of Miami, according to Wilson.
“We measure the problem by the number of complaints we get, Wilson said. “Just after the flooding we were getting a lot of calls about mosquitoes, but the last week or two we haven't received any.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on its Web site Thursday that an Ottawa County man has died of an infection caused by West Nile virus. The department declined to identify the man but the News-Record has been able to determine the man's identity through friends and relatives.
In exchange for confirming the man's identity, family members asked that no information be released about the man except his age and that he had resided in the City of Miami.
The Department of Health, in a news release issued Friday, said the man died as a result of neurologic disease, the most severe form of West Nile virus infection.
“Senior citizens are more likely to develop West Nile encephalitis, which is the cause of this death, said Kristy Bradley, state epidemiologist. “This death also follows a seasonal pattern in that the high-risk months for infection in Oklahoma are August and September.
The death is the first stemming from West Nile virus reported in Oklahoma this year and just the third human case reported in the state in 2007, according to the Department of Health Web site.
The other cases reported this year have been in Oklahoma and Woodward counties. Ottawa County has had previous reports of West Nile virus infection, but no fatalities have been attributed to the virus.
Since 2002, the first year for which records are available, two cases of West Nile virus in humans have been reported in Ottawa County. Over that same period, 18 cases in horses and 36 in birds have been reported in the county.
Oklahoma's first reported case of West Nile virus came in 2002 and since then 14 Oklahomans have died because of infections caused by the virus. Last year, a record six Oklahomans died after contracting the virus.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that first bite an infected bird, but cannot be transmitted from one person to another, or by a bird to a human.
Only about one percent of humans who contract the virus develop severe symptoms. In infected individuals, flu-like symptoms typically emerge within two weeks after a mosquito bite. Individuals over the age of 50 are at the highest risk of becoming severly ill.