Mosquito borne illnesses of concern

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Warmer temperatures mean mosquito season has arrived across the South. Of concern is West Nile Virus, which has been confirmed in parts of St. Tammany Parish already this year. With the possibility of those mosquitoes moving into neighboring Pearl River County, precautions should be taken.

According to statistics by the Centers for Disease Control, in 2017 there were a total of 63 cases of West Nile Virus in Mississippi, which led to two deaths.

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About one in every five who contract the disease develop symptoms such as fever, and one in every 150 develop a serious illness, statistics state.

These insects prefer to breed in ditches and other areas where water is stagnating or where septic systems discharge effluent, coverage states.

According to a May 8 release from the Mississippi State Department of Health, Picayune received a $76,527 grant funded by the CDC as part of the Zika Response and Preparedness Appropriations Act of 2016.

“The grants focus on areas in Mississippi with historically high mosquito activity, but which lack resources to control mosquito-borne diseases because of insufficient funding, equipment, supplies or trained personnel,” the release states.

Public Works Director Eric Morris said that the grant allowed the city to purchase newer traps and add necessary equipment to assist in the abatement efforts.

“We’re actively setting out traps in various locations of the city,” Morris said.

He said the mosquitos are captured, killed, counted and sent to the Mississippi State Department of Health to be examined.

So far, no Zika or West Nile Virus carrying samples have been found in Picayune, Morris said.

In addition to trapping, Morris said the city is also spraying the city regularly to kill mosquito populations.

While the funds were originally granted to be used to control mosquitos for the prevention of the Zika virus, mosquito population control will also reduce instances of the West Nile Virus.

According to an article by the MSDH, several steps can be taken to reduce the occurrence of mosquitos around the home.

Receptacles that can hold standing water should be turned over or removed. Clean gutters, change birdbaths and troughs regularly and avoid having trash piles around the house that could hold water, the article states.

Larvicides can also be used in areas where water commonly collects to kill insects before they mature. According to the article, the safest types of larvicides are methoprene products or larvicides that contain Bti bacteria.

When going outside, it is also a good idea to wear long clothing and mosquito repellant that contains DEET, the article states.