Stay on Guard for WNV

The latest victim of West Nile virus is a horse named Sunshine in Lauderdale County.

Although Sunshine is doing better this week, it was quite a different story last week. That's when he was diagnosed as having the West Nile virus.

Local veterinarian, Dr. Wayne Adams, said this year has been for animals.

"Well, the number of cases are fewer but the cases that we are seeing are more tenacious," said Adams. "Their clinical signs are more severe."

Dr. Adams said just last month he treated two other horses with the virus. One had to be put to sleep.

However, animals are not the only target. An unidentified 39-year-old Lauderdale County man died from the virus.

While mosquitoes are known to breeding in warm, moist areas, healthcare officials say despite the recent slight drop in temperatures residents should remain on alert.

"It is cooler, but this time of the year, in the fall, is when mosquito populations are at some of their highest and mosquitoes are getting ready to hibernate," Adams said. So, they're out feeding more."

Remember the best way to ward off the mosquitoes is by always wearing mosquito repellant when outside and clearing any areas where mosquitoes might breed. That includes areas with stagnant water around your home or your pet's water bowl.

State health officials also confirmed one new human case of West Nile virus in Mississippi Tuesday.

The new case was identified in a Hinds County resident and brings the state's total number of human West Nile cases this year to 46.

There has been one death in the state related to the mosquito-borne virus, here in Lauderdale County.

Officials also confirmed the first 2003 identification of West Nile in two horses in George County and two horses in Lawrence County. Two horses in Leake County tested positive for eastern equine encephalitis, a virus similar to West Nile.

State epidemiologist Sally Slavinski says officials are seeing fewer human cases of West Nile this year. There were 133 human cases and three deaths by this time last year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 2874 human West Nile cases and 53 deaths reported this year.

Health officials urge residents to take standard precautions to prevent mosquito bites, including the use of insect repellants and covering exposed areas of the body.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.