How to protect yourself from West Nile Virus

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Mosquitoes pose many health risks including the West Nile Virus. Proper steps should be taken around your household to decrease your chances of being bitten.

Photo: Franco Patrizia

“The best way to prevent West Nile Virus is to make sure that you don’t have any standing water around your house, and around your yard, like around your potted plants, and things like that, or on your deck and your patio, making sure there is no free-standing water,” says Andrea Laird, RN, MSN, CIC, an inspection control director at Anderson Regional Medical Center. “This is where mosquitoes like to lay their eggs.”

Most people don’t have symptoms if they contract the virus; however some people may develop fever, nausea, and general malaise. In rare instances, the virus can be deadly.

Mosquito bites are a common occurrence in Mississippi, especially during this time of year.

“We are currently in the peak season for mosquito populations,” says Robert Carleton the co-owner of Mosquito Joe of East Mississippi. “At this time of year they’ve had all year to reproduce and their populations have grown. They actually start repopulating early-Spring, and so if you haven’t had any treatment up to this point, you could be seeing a large population.”

“What we have is that the temperature’s above 50 degrees and we have probably have at least 9 months out of the year in Mississippi with that temperature above 50 degrees and that’s what they actually habitat for - that temperature above 50 degree, so once that temperatures gets there around 7-10 days in a row, you’re going to see populations grow with mosquitoes.”

Applying repellents that contain DEET are your best options to keeping the mosquitoes away when you’re outside.

According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, there have been 17 cases of the West Nile Virus in Mississippi in 2018 as of August 9. There were 63 cases of the disease last year with 2 deaths. The only case in our area this year was in Jones County.