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Flu season, West Nile deserve the bulk of local attention

With the attention of the world fixated on stories about Ebola, it is important for locals to remain aware of more common health risks affecting Pearl River County.
“Ebola does not pose a significant risk to Mississippians,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, State Epidemiologist with the Mississippi State Department of Health. “We do have flu and West Nile virus in Mississippi,” he added, “those two illnesses kill people every year.”
With flu season on the horizon, the Mississippi State Department of Health is encouraging everyone six months and older to get a flu shot. County health departments should have flu shots available by the end of October according to the State Health Department’s website.
The flu is rough for anybody, but certain demographics are affected more seriously than others. The health department warns that adults older than 50, pregnant women, young children and those who suffer from chronic illness are all more likely to develop complications from influenza.
The worst of these complications is pneumonia, a common lung infection that can exhibit severe symptoms. According to the Mississippi State Department of Health website, more than 600 Mississippians die every year from the flu and pneumonia.
“More Mississippians will die from the flu than from Ebola,” said Dobbs, who stressed that West Nile and the flu were the most relevant health concerns in Mississippi at this time.
West Nile is a virus transmitted to humans by mosquitoes and in rare cases infection can result in a serious illness. The Mississippi State Department of Health confirmed a new case of the virus in Bolivar County earlier this week, which brings the total number of confirmed infections to 45 this year.
Keeping up with the health affairs of the world remains important, but Pearl River County residents should protect themselves from the health risks that reside closer to home.