Tulsa CountyMosquito Surveillance
The Tulsa Health Department (THD) uses a variety of methods to prevent and control mosquitoes that can cause disease. These methods used are based on the understanding of mosquito biology, methods for the transmission of disease, surveillance, and prevention methods.
THD operates a mosquito surveillance program using special mosquito traps throughout the county to test for West Nile virus in the community. THD also works to control mosquito populations during the summer months using a larvacide and adultaciding program.
Larvacides are products that are placed in bodies of water that help control the mosquito population by killing the mosquito larva and pupa before they grow into biting adults. Areas of water that cannot be dumped or drained such as fountains, rain barrels, and holes in trees benefit the most from larvacide.
Adulticides help reduce the number of adult mosquitoes in an area and reduce the risk that people will get sick. When surveillance activities show that the number of mosquitoes in an area are increasing, that a mosquito trap has been found positive for West Nile, or several complaints have been received about the number of mosquitoes in an area, Tulsa Health Department dispatches mosquito sprayer trucks to the areas.
The lifecycle of a mosquito is about 10 days from egg to full grown adult. Female mosquitoes lay their eggs in water and the mosquito will then mature into an adult while in the water.
Collection and Testing
The mosquito surveillance program at THD collects mosquitoes using special mosquito traps known as gravid traps. The traps are checked weekly and the mosquitoes are then tested to see if any of the mosquitoes are carrying West Nile.
As of 10/22/2021, mosquito surveillance has concluded for the 2021 season. There was a total of 29,677 mosquitoes collected and 26 traps testing positive for West Nile mosquitoes in 2021. Limited surveillance will continue on a complaint basis. Full surveillance will resume in May 2022.
Tulsa County map showing the approximate location of all traps testing positive for West Nile Virus.
Protecting the Community
How to Prevent Mosquito Bites
You can reduce your risk of being infected with mosquito borne illness like West Nile virus by using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing to prevent mosquito bites.
Use insect repellent when you go outdoors.
Repellent containing DEET provide longer lasting protection. To optimize safety and effectiveness, repellents should be used according to label instructions.
Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors, when weather permits.
Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so it is recommended that clothes be treated with a Permethrin based repellent. Permethrin is specifically designed to be used on clothing and not on skin. Long pants should be tucked into boots or high socks.
Take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours.
Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing from dusk to dawn or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
Tulsa County residents are the first line of defense against mosquitoes.
How to Mosquito Proof your home
The best protection against mosquito borne illnesses and West Nile Virus is to prevent mosquitoes in your area. Mosquitoes need standing water in which to breed, so it's important to make every effort to remove standing water in the area where you live. You can reduce the mosquito population by following these tips:
Dump out standing water.
This includes container gardens, flower pots and drainage saucers, toys that are outdoors that may hold water, bird baths, and gardening equipment such as wheelbarrows.
Maintain areas of standing water that cannot be dumped/drained.
Make sure to keep gutters and downspouts clear of clogs. Eliminate tall grass, weeds, vegetation. and other mosquito resting areas. Screen rain barrels, openings to water tanks and any other water storage container. Fill in holes and eliminate water sources were mosquito breeding and resting sites on their property.
Keep swimming pools clean and free of stagnant water. Make sure that your pool is kept properly chlorinated during the times when it is in use. Be aware that pool covers can hold standing water that will provide a sufficient breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Encourage neighbors to eliminate mosquito breeding and resting sites on their property.
Once a week, items that hold water like bird baths, planters, and trash cans should be emptied and scrubbed and if possible, turned over or covered, or thrown away.
Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens that are not in need to repair.
Ensuring that all screens are intact on opening windows and doors help to provide a barrier between you and your family to help keep mosquitoes out of your home.
Mosquitoes can also cause illnesses in humans. Mosquito borne illnesses are viruses that can get into the blood stream of a human via a mosquito bite. In Oklahoma, the most commonly detected mosquito borne illness in humans in West Nile Virus. There is no human vaccine to prevent or medications to treat West Nile Virus. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever and other mild symptoms that can be treated with over the counter pain relievers and fever reducers. While the most commonly seen symptoms are fever, body aches, and fatigue, some people may experience nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, and/or a rash.
A severe illness can develop in 1 in 150 infected people that affects the central nervous system requiring hospitalization and can, in rare cases, lead to death. Symptoms seen in these severe cases have been found to also develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain) or meningitis (swelling of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord). Recovery from severe illness might take several weeks or months while some effects might be permanent.
While a mosquito borne illness can affect anyone of any age, those who are over 60 years of age are at a greater risk. People with certain long term medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and persons who recently received an organ transplant.
As of 10/1/21, there have been 3 cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Tulsa County for 2021.
To see how Tulsa County compares to the rest of the state in regards to reported human cases of West Nile Virus, rates are calculated to show the number of cases reported for every 100,000 persons in the population. Human cases are based on residents' location and does not necessarily mean that the person contracted the virus at that location. As shown in the chart below, based on rate, Tulsa County is reporting about the same number of cases per 100,000 population as the state of Oklahoma.