Oklahoma resident hospitalized with possible West Nile virus

An Oklahoma resident is currently hospitalized with a possible case of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus, officials in the Sooner State announced this week.

The patient, from Oklahoma County, was not identified. He or she has been tested for West Nile virus, though the results from the test are seemingly pending as the case was identified as “possible” in a news release from the Oklahoma-City County Health Department (OCCHD). The possible case marks the first in the county this year, per officials.

“People should be aware that by minimizing the exposure to mosquitoes and taking additional preventative measures, the risk and chances of becoming infected are reduced,” said OCCHD Epidemiologist Cynthia Bates, in a statement.

West Nile virus —  which was first reported in the U.S. in 1999 — is typically spread by infected mosquitoes. Though side effects can be severe, most people who are infected experience little to no symptoms and fully recover.

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A small percentage of people infected with West Nile virus — roughly 1 in 5 — develop a fever and may additionally experience headaches, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea or a rash, among other side effects. Even rarer, about 1 in 150 people who are infected with the mosquito-linked ailment can develop a serious illness, such as inflammation of the spinal cord or brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Mayo Clinic warns people who are older, as well as those with pre-existing medical conditions, are more susceptible to the virus.

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Wearing insect repellent and protective clothing, as well as draining standing water around your home or yard, can be helpful in reducing the odds of sustaining a mosquito bite, ultimately mitigating the risk of developing West Nile virus.

“The risk for mosquito-borne illness remains active until a hard freeze hits the Oklahoma County area,” officials said in the news release.