West Nile virus numbers keep rising

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  • The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 29 new human cases of West Nile Virus for this year. This brings the state total to 169 cases so far for 2012, and four of which resulted in death.
    The newly reported cases are in Adams (2), Claiborne (1), Harrison ((1), Hinds (5), Humphreys (1), Jackson (1), Jefferson Davis (1), Lamar (1), Lauderdale (1), Madison (5), Perry (1), Rankin (6), Sunflower (1), Warren (1) and Yazoo (1) counties.
    The health department reports July, August and September are peak months for West Nile Virus but it can occur year-round.
    According the health department web site, which is updated in real time, Pearl River County has had one confirmed case for 2012. The county also has had three positive tests on mosquito larva which confirms the virus is in the county. For updated statistics check: MS State Department of Health
    “We were warned that 10 days after Hurricane Isaac came through, we would see an increase in the mosquito population. That warning has held to be true. We have stepped up efforts to counteract it. We currently have two mosquito trucks spraying and we are continuing to put a larvaecide into ditches to kill mosquito larvae,” said Adrain Lumpkin, Pearl River County Administrator.
    “Our Public Works department is aware of the situation and is aggressively spraying five nights a week, as well as putting larvaecide in ditches and areas where ponding has occurred. The city is even using two types of spray in a rotation to prevent the mosquitos from building up immunity to the spray. We have found this to be quite effective over the last two years, since its implementation,” said Harvey Miller, Picayune Economic Development Director.
    Miller encouraged residents to check their property for old tires, buckets, and baby pools.
    “It is easy to overlook places where water collects over time, and it only takes an inch of water to give mosquitoes optimum conditions for breeding. Picayune residents who observe standing water can call 311 to report it. The city will come and put larvaecide in areas reported to prevent breeding.”
    “We spray once a week, usually on Thursday nights. It is really expensive to spray so we do the whole town and college. We are not using the larvaecide because of the expense,” said Sam Hale, Poplarville General Superintendent. The health department recommends that residents take precautions to reduce the risk of contracting the virus, which in addition to Miller’s recommendations, include: Wearing protective clothing at peak times for mosquitos such as at dawn and at dusk, and using repellent according to manufacturer’s instructions.
    The health department Deputy State Epidemiologist, Dr. Paul Byers, agreed that there is an increase in West Nile cases over the last few years but added, “There have been times in the past, such as 2002, when we had 192 cases. We are only up to 169 now. There is no way to predict how the final total will be at the end of 2012. We can certainly say that there has been an increase this year, but it is still not the highest so far.”
    When asked if Hurricane Isaac’s contribution to standing water in the county would lead to more cases of West Nile, Dr. Byers said, “It’s too early to tell the impact of Hurricane Isaac on the confirmed number of cases. There can be up to two weeks of incubation time before the virus makes itself known and delays in reporting, which can give a false totals. We really just have to wait and see.
    “An increase in mosquito population doesn’t necessarily equal an increase in human West Nile Virus infections,” said Dr. Byers.
    Residents are encouraged to be vigilant for symptoms of the virus, which include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, rash, muscle weakness or swollen lymph nodes — all of which can be mild and feel similar to a flu virus. The health department warns that in a small number of cases, infection from the virus can lead to encephalitis or meningitis resulting in paralysis, coma and even death.

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