OKLAHOMA CITY Oklahoma has had 170 confirmed cases of West Nile disease and 11 deaths, the state Department of Health said Tuesday in its bi-weekly report.
While the number of reported deaths rose from nine the previous week, health officials said the spread of the disease had slowed as cooler weather limited the activity of the Culex mosquito, which spreads the virus to humans through its bite.
"The number of West Nile Virus reports that we're receiving has consistently declined since the middle of September," said Dr. Lauri Smithee, chief of acute disease service at the Health Department.
The state also benefitted by earlier-than-usual freezing temperatures, which drive the mosquito into dormancy. The first freezing temperatures of the season were recorded during the first week of October at various stations around the state, according to the National Weather Service. That was two to three weeks before the average first freeze.
"Mosquitoes are slowing down," Smithee said. "Indeed, there is less transmissions going on."
The latest deaths involve people who contracted the disease earlier, when its spread was more prevalent, she said.