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Local doctors warn of West Nile

It's that time of year again. Mosquitoes are out and buzzing around, which also makes it the season for exposure to West Nile virus. The typical season for West Nile is between June and September, according to Dr. Steve Egwuonwu (Pronounced egwan. The wu at the end is silent) of Lawton Family Practice at Southwestern Medical Center.

By Jan. 17 this year, 47 states and the District of Columbia had reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds or mosquitoes in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Overall, 2,038 cases of West Nile virus disease in people were reported to the CDC. Of these, 1,140 or 56 percent were classified as neuroinvasive disease  such as meningitis or encephalitis  and 898 or 44 percent were classified as non-neuroinvasive disease.

In 2016, there were no cases of West Nile virus reported in Comanche County, but two cases were reported as West Nile virus blood donors. Stephens County had two cases of West Nile virus and two cases of WNV neuroinvasive disease in 2016, according to the Oklahoma State Health Department. None of the other counties in Southwest Oklahoma reported any for 2016.

"West Nile is caused by a virus," Egwuonwu said. "It is contracted through mosquito bites. The mosquitoes that carry it are called the culex mosquito. That is the most common way of contracting it. Other means of getting the virus, it could go through blood, a plasma transfusion. You could also get West Nile through an organ transplant. There are also a few reports of West Nile virus being transmitted from mother to baby, before the baby is born."

The Lawton Constitution

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