West Nile Virus found in Harrison County

By Krystal Allan - bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Nearly 25 Harrison County employees went door to door Thursday warning people about the threat of West Nile.

"We had mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile on this street, so it's our job that we come out and inform the public," Harrison County Supervisor Windy Swetman said.

According to Swetman, infected mosquitoes were found along Highway 67, Rushing Robinson Road and on Hudson Krohn Road near Shady Creek Drive. A call from a resident brought the issue to the supervisor's attention.

"A constituent called and informed me of the fact that he'd contracted West Nile," Swetman said.

Sammy Handler found out last Thursday that he had been infected with West Nile.

"I've been through a lot in my life," Sammy Handler said. "I went through about 28 heart procedures, had a quadruple bypass, and I've never had anything in my life knock me down like this."

Doctors initially thought Handler had a stroke. He lost 90 percent of the movement in his left arm and nearly 40 percent in his left leg. He stayed in the hospital 11 days.

"It's a life changing experience," Handler said.

Besides canvassing neighborhoods with alerts and tips to prevent infection, mosquito control has been spraying, treating ditches and setting mosquito traps throughout the county.

As the county does its job, Swetman said people should also to do their part to prevent the spread of the virus.

"Residents need to understand, regardless of whether it's in east Harrison County today, it could be west Harrison County, Jackson County or Stone County tomorrow. Please take precautions," Swetman said.

There are signs to look for if you think you could be infected. Flu-like symptoms are typical with the onset of the virus. Those symptoms can include headaches, vomiting, muscle aches and in more severe cases seizures and paralysis.

The Mississippi Department of Health suggests seeing a doctor if you're experiencing those symptoms during the summer.

To keep mosquitoes from breeding around your home: remove standing sources of water, use insect repellent and wear long pants or a long sleeve shirt after dark if it's not too hot.

For more information you can visit the state health department's West Nile Virus page.

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