A pool of mosquitoes from the Church Avenue area has tested positive for the West Nile virus, prompting Harrison County Mosquito Control to alert residents by going door to door.
Gene Fayard, director of county mosquito control, said the Mississippi Health Department notified him Tuesday about the positive test.
He said the county is talking to residents within a half-mile radius of the infected mosquito pool or leaving flyers at their doors.
He said every area of the county, including its five cities, is on a schedule to be sprayed every seven to 10 days, but that schedule will be stepped up to every three days in D’Iberville. The county also is putting out extra traps to catch mosquitoes for testing.
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Trucks usually spray at night, but could be spraying in the early morning now in D’Iberville. He asks that residents head indoors if they see one of the trucks.
“If the driver sees someone out, he’s going to turn it off until he gets past them,” Fayard said.
The county also is passing along tips for residents to avoid mosquito bites:
▪ Wear long sleeves and pants outdoors.
▪ Use EPA-approved mosquito repellent.
▪ Empty standing water.
▪ Discard old tires and rubbish where standing water can collect.
▪ Install screens on any open doors or windows.
Fayard said the test came back positive from a sample the Mississippi Health Department collected. Liz Sharlot, the Health Department’s director of communications, said samples are being taken around the state.
“This is peak season for West Nile virus, so everybody should take precautions to protect themselves,” Sharlot wrote in an email. “Positive mosquito samples do indicate mosquitoes infected with the West Nile virus and the ability to transmit the infection have been found in the (D’Iberville) area.”
She said the Health Department does not test for positive samples in every county. West Nile, she said, is found throughout the state. Because this is the time of year when most cases are reported, she said all Mississippians should be taking precautions.
The Centers for Disease Control says about 80 percent of people with West Nile exhibit no symptoms, while one of 150 people develop severe symptoms that can include high fever, headaches, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. Neurological damage can be permanent.
Symptoms develop within three to 14 days of a bite and can last several days to several weeks, the CDC says. People over the age of 50 are at greatest risk of becoming ill.
West Nile cases
The Mississippi State Health Department tracks and reports confirmed cases of West Nile virus. So far in 2017, three cases have been reported in Hinds County, two cases in Forrest County and one case each in Humphreys, Leflore, Perry, Rankin and Covington counties.
In 2016, Mississippi had 43 confirmed cases and two deaths.