Reduce risk of WNV exposure

From Press, Staff Reports

With nearly 100 human cases of West Nile virus confirmed statewide, officials are urging Mississippians to protect against mosquitoes.

Mississippi had 98 confirmed human cases of the virus as of Tuesday with two of those resulting in deaths. The Mississippi State Department of Health only reports laboratory-confirmed cases to the public.

A county-by-county report on the Health Department’s website (www.HealthyMS.com) of 2012 mosquito-borne illnesses in humans and animals, including WNV, showed no cases of any kind in Webster County as of Tuesday. The only adjoining county where cases have been confirmed is Calhoun, with three.

“Regardless of the specific county reports, West Nile virus is throughout the entire state at this point, and we still have another month or more of peak season. It’s extremely important to protect yourself and your home environment from West Nile virus and all mosquito-borne diseases,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, MSDH state epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist.

Most often, WNV is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread WNV to humans and other animals when they bite.

Reduce Risk The Health Department encourages the public to take precautions to reduce risk of getting the virus. The easiest and best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites:

• Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are seeking blood, for many species this is during the dusk and dawn hours.

• When you are outdoors, use insect repellents containing an EPA- registered insect repellent. Follow the directions on the package.

• Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours

• Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.

Standing Water • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used. • Clean out eaves, troughs and gutters. • Pick up all beverage containers and cups. • Check tarps on boats or other equipment that may collect water. • Change water in plant trays, including hanging plants, at least once a week. • Remove vegetation or obstructions in drainage ditches that prevent the flow of water.

Symptoms People typically develop symptoms between three and 14 days after they are bitten by the infected mosquito.

Symptoms of West Nile virus infection are often mild and may include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, a rash, muscle weakness or swollen lymph nodes. In a small number of cases, infection can result in encephalitis or meningitis, which can lead to paralysis, coma and possibly death.