Mississippi could break record in number of West Nile cases - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Mississippi could break record in number of West Nile cases

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They're pesky, unwelcome and in some cases, down right dangerous. Mosquitoes. And because of them, Mississippi is on track to break a record.

Currently, there are 129 reported human cases of West Nile infection spread out across the state, with the majority in the Jackson tri-county area. Now, inside the most active time of year, the cases keep adding up.

"July, August and September are usually when we see most of our cases reported, so we're right in the middle of that," said deputy state epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.

So far, four people have died from the virus. Dr. Byers said when it comes to symptoms, some folks may not realize they're infected as their bodies fight off the virus.

"For about 80 percent of people who are actually infected with West Nile virus, you don't really have any symptoms. So you won't really know it and you won't seek medical care because you're not having any symptoms," said Byers.

For the other 20 percent, mild or severe symptoms can develop. Those include headaches, fevers, muscle aches, weakness and in some cases a rash. They generally last three to six days.

Dr. Vann Craig knows that all too well. He was infected a couple of months ago. In a recent interview, he said after a few days of feeling sick with a loss of appetite, he knew he had to get checked out.

"I don't think the general population understands this disease and how bad it can be. And I don't think the physicians in the Southeastern United States understand how bad it can be," said Craig.

From using mosquito repellant and emptying standing water to avoiding those dusk and dawn time frames when mosquitoes are most active, Byers says personal protection is the best defense.

"It's important for us to continue to get the message out to folks that now is the time to be taking those precautions to protect yourself and your family," said Byers.

With almost four months to go before the end of the year, Byers said it's difficult to predict how many reported cases the state will end up with. As sprayers go up and down the roadways, it's a sign the battle of protection has no end in sight.

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