Those in the outdoor tourism industry say the mosquito has always been a bother. Now that the insect is as much health risk as pest, outdoor tourists are arming themselves with bug repellent, but not staying away.
Stephen Schlautman, an employee at Black Creek Canoe Rental in Brooklyn, said West Nile is on the minds of his customers.
"People are definitely using more repellent,'' Schlautman said. "But I haven't seen a downturn in the number of people recreating... They're just taking more precautions.''
Gov. Ronnie Musgrove on Friday asked for $7.8 million in federal funding to help communities with mosquito control programs. Musgrove declared a state of emergency last week that allows the federal funding request.
Two deaths in Mississippi, eight in Louisiana and one in Illinois have been linked to West Nile. Mississippi has 51 cases of the virus, according to the governor's office.
In Louisiana, bug repellent is available at all the state's visitor centers and parks, and the tourism department's Web page has a link to information about West Nile. Phillip Jones, the secretary of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, said it's all part of an effort to protect Louisiana's $8.5 billion tourism industry.
"We want to be sure we do everything we can to protect and nurture (tourism),'' Jones said. "We want our visitors to feel as safe and comfortable as those of us who live in Louisiana do.''
Officials at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau have not seen a West Nile-related drop-off in tourism, spokeswoman Jolie Spiers said. In Louisiana, bug repellant manufacturer Cutter donated 6,000 cans of spray to the state, which has since had to buy more.
"Some folks who may have expressed an initial concern were very pleased to see that we were taking a proactive approach,'' Jones said. "Most if not all indicated that the West Nile issue was not going to keep them from visiting Louisiana.''
At Black Creek Canoe Rental, Schlautman said customers are still booking overnight trips, the kind that put canoeists in close proximity to forested shorelines at both dawn and dusk, the active times for mosquitoes that carry West Nile. This year, Schlautman said, he sees more citronella candles making the overnight trips.
"I think that with the response to Sept. 11, people feel like they're going to live their lives,'' Schlautman said. "They'll take precautions, but they can't stop living.''
The Luke family has been committed to Ole Miss for years. On Monday Matt Luke met the media in Oxford four days after taking over the head coaching reins from Hugh Freeze.More >>
14 years as part of the Ole Miss football program as a coach or player has prepared Matt Luke for this opportunity. Admittedly it doesn't come under the circumstances he might've envisioned. But with a Rebel bloodline that runs 3 generations deep, the position fulfills a lifelong dream. "I can truly tell y'all today that this is my dream job," Luke said Monday at his first press conference as Ole Miss interim head coach. "It's a job that I've been preparing my whole li...More >>
The Pascagoula Panthers open the 2017 football season on the road. In fact, their first three games are road contests. That scheduling quirk may give field turf crews just enough time to get War Memorial Stadium ready for the September 8 home opener. The wet weather in South Mississippi is placing quite the burden on construction workers as they attempt to complete stadium renovations. The project was suppose to be finished before the beginning of Pascagoula's football season.More >>
Bay St. Louis leaders are considering a new rule that would prohibit people from living in recreational vehicles. That’s just one of the zoning changes the city has outlined to be discussed at a public hearing Tuesday.More >>
Mike Massey has been playing pool for 57 years. Over that time as a teenager, Massey says he got involved in the dark side of pool halls. At the age of 23 Massey says he turned his life around and became a World Champion billiards player. He says he's traveled to 40 countries around the world.More >>