By Alexandra Hedrick, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
Mississippi State Health Department has confirmed the second case of human infection of the West Nile Virus for 2013 and is urging Mississippians to take precautions to avoid the disease.
The first case was reported and confirmed in Madison County in April. The second case was reported in Forrest County. The Mississippi State Health Department only reports confirmed cases of West Nile Virus, said Dr. Robert Travnicek, district nine health officer with the state health department.
Symptoms of West Nile Virus can range from flu-like symptoms, such as headache, vomiting and muscle weakness to paralysis and coma.
“It is important to note only one percent of people get really ill. Most people will not know they are infected,” said Liz Sharlot, director of communications with the state health department.
Travnicek said West Nile Virus is a “personal protection disease.” He recommends avoiding going outside in the early mornings and evenings. If you are outside, make sure you use DEET insect repellents or other EPA -registered ingredients, such as Picaridin, Permethrin, and oil of lemon eucalyptus.
According to the Mississippi State Health Department website, to further protect yourself, wear shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time. Also, tuck pant legs into socks and button collars. To protect your home, repair any failed septic systems, keep grass cut short, keep drains clear to allow for proper drainage and clean and chlorinate swimming pools even if they are not in use.
Also change the water in bird baths, wading pools or other water containers once a week and empty containers of any standing water in your yard. Standing water is a mosquito breeding ground, Travnicek said.
Travnicek’s best advice was to “stay away from mosquitos at all costs.”
He also stressed that West Nile Virus is a year long disease that historically has shown an increase in cases during the summer months. So precautions should be taken throughout the rest of the year.
For more information and tips for protection from mosquitos, check out the Mississippi State Health Department’s website.