Mosquitoes love Mississippi in the Summertime. Unfortunately, some of those mosquitoes carry the West Nile Virus.
We learned Thursday a third Mississippian has the virus. The latest case is in Lowndes County. Two other cases have been reported in Forrest and Madison Counties.
Last year was a bad year for West Nile Virus in Mississippi. 247 cases were reported to the Health Department. Five people died. This year, state and county officials are doing everything they can to lower those numbers.
Dr. Thomas Dobbs is the State Epidemiologist. He says July begins peak season for the pesky insects. He advises dumping any standing water around your home.
"Backed up gutters, old pots, anything that can have some water that can sit there and kind of concentrate in the dry heat, those are the areas that mosquitoes love to breed in," says Dr. Dobbs.
On a much larger scale, counties have employees devoted to spraying insecticide.
"Madison County is very aggressive with our mosquito spraying," says Butch Hammack, Director of Madison County's EOC. "We use our volunteer fire departments to spray the unincorporated areas of Madison County."
"We work five nights a week, four hours a night," says Madison County mosquito sprayer, Kris Wilkinson. "Hopefully just kills the bugs. That's what we're here for."
Last year, Madison County had 24 reported cases and one death. Officials believe those numbers are too high.
"Our spraying efforts, we stepped it up a little bit more this year," says Hammack. "We're using an extra truck as opposed to last year, try to cover areas more frequently than we did last year."
There are precautions you need to take also to keep the mosquitoes away. Insect repellent sprays like Off and Cutter work well, especially if DEET is the main ingredient. Health experts advise you to apply them liberally and apply them often, and even though we're in Mississippi, and temperatures hover in the 90s all summer, long sleeves and long pants are your best bet for avoiding mosquito bites.
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