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Jackson County addresses increased West Nile Virus concern
From: Jackson County Public Information Office   Ken Flannigan   Filed 9/20/07 GCN

The Mississippi Department of Health has confirmed a human case of West Nile Virus in Jackson County. The County’s Emergency Management Office was informed this case is in the northwest section of Pascagoula. This is Jackson County’s first human case of West Nile since the summer of 2005.

"Although we’ve had some cooler days, it is still peak West Nile virus season. Mosquitoes are still biting and transmitting the virus to humans. I encourage all Mississippians to continue taking precautions to avoid this disease," said Dr. Ed Thompson, Interim State Health Officer.

Mosquito suppression throughout the county is managed by the Jackson County Board of Supervisors through its contract with Mississippi Mosquito Control Incorporated (MMCI). In response to this latest concern, MMCI is initiating the following actions:

  • The northwest section of Pascagoula will be considered to be the epicenter of the problem.      
  • Extra spraying has already begun for this section. During the evening hours, truck mounted sprayers and aerial spraying will be assigned to the area in an effort to reduce the insect population. Additional spraying started Sept. 18 and will continue through Sept. 20.
  • Personnel will be assigned to inspect the immediate area surrounding the epicenter and to continue outward for an approximate five city block area.  The purpose of the search will be to locate mosquito breeding sites. 
  • When it is necessary to enter a property, the resident will be asked to sign a permission slip to allow inspection of the premises for mosquito breeding and to take action against the insects. 
  • The efficacy of this operation will be determined through the use of Gravid Traps that are scheduled for operation following the spray assignments.  Specimens collected will be tested in our laboratory to reduce the turn-around time required by the state lab. 

The City of Pascagoula is also taking additional steps to address this West Nile concern. Mayor Matthew Avara says all public works crews are instructed to pay special attention to any area with standing water.

“We are aggressively addressing this issue. Our crews are watching out for standing water at all city parks and in all drainage ditches. We also want our residents to let us know if they see any problem spots, such as abandoned houses or swimming pools,” Avara said.

The Mississippi Department of Health confirms 76 human cases of West Nile Virus so far this year. Dr. Thompson suggests that Mississippians take the following precautions to reduce the risk of contracting WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • Remove sources of standing water
  • Avoid mosquito-prone areas, especially between dusk and dawn
  • Wear protective clothing (long-sleeved shirts and pants) when in mosquito-prone areas
  • Apply a mosquito repellent according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

The Health Department reports symptoms of WNV 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.

For more tips on preventing and protecting yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses visit www.health.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/14,0,93,html .

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