This time of year brings much fanfare with fireworks and such, but that's not all, it also brings with it the threat of the West Nile Virus.
'You really can't forecast how the West Nile Virus season will be from year to year. There's no absolute trend," says District 6 Health Officer, Dr. Rebecca James with the Mississippi Department of Health.
In Mississippi and Alabama, the summer months are prime times for the spread of the mosquito borne virus. Two years ago there was an unusually high number of West Nile Virus cases in Mississippi with more than 240 reported and five deaths. The spread was so great that door hangers, listing ways to avoid the virus, were distributed to residents throughout the state. Although that's not the case so far this year, health officials say the spread of the virus is still a threat, and that's why they're urging residents to take needed precautions.
"Try to eliminate the places that have water that can build up," says Dr. James. "Sometimes you have some old pots that you're not using any more, or puddles and these type things. Any place that water can sit for a length of time, the mosquitoes like to breed in.'
With the very young, senior citizens, and others with compromised immune systems most vulnerable to having severe effects from the virus, Dr. James is advising these individuals in particular to use extreme caution when outdoors.
"Wear long sleeves, and long pants, and insect repellent when you're out in the evening, night and morning, which are the cooler times of the day."
Symptoms of the West Nile Virus include: headaches, fevers, muscle aches, weakness, and in some cases a rash. These symptoms generally last three to six days.