JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – With the summer months approaching in Mississippi, more people will try to enjoy the great outdoors. However, their enjoyment could be dampened by those pesky mosquitoes.

Many of those pests carry diseases. According to the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), mosquito-borne illnesses in the state include West Nile virus, Zika virus, St. Louis encephalitis, Chikungunya virus, and Eastern Equine encephalitis.

These illnesses affect birds, animals and humans, causing flu-like symptoms in people who are bitten by infected mosquitoes. Sometimes, those illnesses can be severe, leading to meningitis or encephalitis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), West Nile virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. Cases of virus occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall.

In 2022, Mississippi had seven human cases of West Nile virus with one death. This was the first West Nile virus death reported in Mississippi since 2017.

There are several ways that Mississippians can protect themselves ahead of and during mosquito season.

Mosquito Protection

  • Use a recommended mosquito repellent.
  • Cover arms and legs with long sleeves and long skirts or pants.
  • Avoid mosquito-prone areas in the mornings and evenings, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Remove sources of standing water around your home where mosquitoes can breed, and make sure window screens are in good condition.
  • Avoid areas where mosquitoes are more prevalent: shady or overgrown outdoor areas, and places where the ground stays moist or wet.
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or indoors where mosquitoes may be present.

The recommended mosquito repellent includes DEET. The repellent is sold under numerous brand names and comes in lotion, spray and many other forms.

Protecting Your Home

  • Repair failed septic systems.
  • Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed.
  • Dispose of old tires, cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or other unused containers that can hold water.
  • Change the water at least once per week in bird baths, wading pools and other water containers on your property.
  • Cover trash containers to keep out rainwater.
  • Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains.
  • Repair leaky water pipes and outside faucets.
  • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with predatory fish.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools even if they are not being used.
  • Keep drains, ditches, and culverts free of grass clippings, weeds, and trash so water will drain properly.