(Jackson, MS) The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) wants to remind all Mississippians that along with warmer weather, mosquito season is here, and with it, the possibility of increased risk of contracting West Nile virus (WNV).
Although WNV is most prevalent in mid- to late summer it can occur throughout the year. MSDH conducts statewide mosquito testing with its most intensive surveillance during peak mosquito reproduction time, which is usually July, August and September.
The MSDH encourages all Mississippians to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of contracting WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses: remove sources of standing water, avoid mosquito-prone areas, especially between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active; wear protective clothing (such as long-sleeved shirts and pants) when in mosquito-prone areas; and apply a DEET-based mosquito repellent according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Symptoms of WNV infection are often mild and may include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, a rash, muscle weakness or swollen lymph nodes. In a small number of cases, infection can result in encephalitis or meningitis, which can lead to paralysis, coma and possibly death.
For more information on WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses, a checklist to reduce the mosquito population in and around homes, and a brochure on WNV, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com/westnile or call the WNV toll-free hotline from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 1-877-WST-NILE (1-877-978-6453).
Measures to reduce mosquito population in and around your home include:
- Drain or dump any source of standing water around the home;
- Dispose of containers and debris which can collect or hold water;
- Remove all leaf debris;
- Dispose of used tires;
- Clean rain gutters and swimming pools;
- Change the water in bird baths weekly;
- Use over-the-counter larvaciding products that can be purchased at home improvement stores;
- Eliminate pools of standing, stagnant water, especially with organic debris;
- Repair damaged or torn window and door screens that stay open;
- Remove outdoor pet food and water dishes that are not being used;
- Close garbage can lids and be sure water does not collect in the bottom of the cans; and
- Check around construction sites to ensure that proper backfilling and grading prevent drainage problems.
Measures to protect yourself and family members include:
- Wear long-sleeved, long-legged clothing with socks and shoes outdoor when practical;
- Use mosquito repellent with DEET; follow label instructions; products with up to 35 percent DEET will provide adequate protection under most conditions;
- While higher concentrations of DEET may be safe and legal, the MSDH generally recommends using repellents with 10 percent or less on children; follow the label instructions;
- Use repellents containing the chemical picaridin or the oil of eucalyptus; and,
- Avoid mosquitoes whenever possible; stay indoors or take personal protective measures, especially between dusk and dawn.