Oklahoma reports two more deaths of West Nile virus

Updated: 2012-08-17 17:03


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The health department of the US state of Oklahoma confirmed Thursday two more deaths of West Nile virus, bringing the state's death toll to three this week.

The latest two deaths happened this week in Oklahoma county and Seminole county, with both victims being octogenarians, said The Oklahoman, the largest daily newspaper in Oklahoma.

On Tuesday, an Oklahoma county man aged above 80 was confirmed as the first person in the state who died of West Nile virus this year.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health has already issued a public health warning because of an surge in West Nile Virus cases this year.

Since Jan. 1, 2012, there have been 61 confirmed cases of West Nile virus disease, of which, 22 cases were West Nile fever and 39 cases West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease.

The age of patients ranged from 12 to 90, and the health department has warned that people older than 50 are at the highest risk of developing the most severe symptoms.

Meanwhile, the Arkansas State Department of Health confirmed Thursday that West Nile virus cases are also on the rise in the state.

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The Arkansas state has seen nine confirmed cases this year, up sharply from only one case in 2011.

So far this year, 693 cases of West Nile virus have been reported in 32 states, with the death toll amounting to 26, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Texas, which tops the list in both total cases and fatalities, is battling an outbreak of the epidemic. A total of 17 people have died of the virus and 465 more have been sickened this year.

West Nile virus, first identified in Uganda in 1937, is a mosquito-borne illness that leads to serious neurological disease in some cases, and its symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache, nausea, dizziness and muscle weakness.

Commonly seen in temperate and tropical regions, West Nile virus mainly infects birds, but is also known to infect human bodies mainly through mosquito biting. Scientists say about 80 percent of infections are symptomless.

The World Health Organization said that treatment of this virus often involves hospitalization, intravenous fluids, respiratory support and prevention of secondary infections.