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State reports West Nile Case City begins annual mosquito fight

     As the warmer weather and longer days draw many of us outdoors, health officials are warning Mississippians to take precautions to avoid the risk of contracting a mosquito-borne illness.

     The Mississippi State Department of Health reported the first laboratory-confirmed case of West Nile virus for the 2013 year. The case was in Madison County in early April.

     Last year saw record-breaking numbers of virus reports with 247 cases in the state and five resulting deaths.

     12 cases of WNV were reported in Lincoln County in 2012 as well as one fatality.

     Leonard Roberts, 78, died in August 2012 at King’s Daughters Medical Center after contracting the virus.

     Lincoln County ranked fourth among counties with the most number of cases in 2012 behind Rankin with 45; Madison, 24; and Hinds, also 24.

     Cases are typically reported during the hottest months of the year, but Dr. Paul Byers, MSDH Deputy State Epidemiologist, explained in a press release that the virus is active all year, indicating the April case as a prime example.

     “This serves as a reminder that WNV can occur year-round, even if we are not in the peak summer months of July, August and September,” he said.

     Brookhaven Traffic Superintendent Billy Case heads mosquito prevention in the city. He began his treatment regiment this year in March.

     “When the weather is permitting, I will spray four times a week,” he said.

     Rain and wind can dramatically disrupt the spraying process.

     Case will generally begin his six-hour route through the city around dusk when the mosquitoes are most active. In addition to spraying with the truck, Case treats standing water on public property with Larvicide, an insecticide that is specifically targeted against the larval life stage of an insect.

     “From citizens’ reports, if it’s sprayed on a regular basis, it curbs the situation,” Case said.

     Still, Case’s actions alone are not enough to effectively eliminate the mosquito population.

     “We don’t go on private property,” Case said. “Property owners have to do a lot on their own.”    

     Case urges citizens to tackle the problem initially through source reduction by eliminating any standing water on the property and cleaning any gutters.

     Individuals can protect themselves by using mosquito repellant with DEET. Extra precautions can be taken such as wearing long-sleeved, long-legged clothing between dusk and dawn, peak mosquito biting times.

     For more information visit the Mississippi State Department of Health website at: www.HealthyMs.com/westnile