Harrison County

Second person infected with West Nile near Gulfport football stadium

These are the mosquitoes that cause West Nile virus. Here’s how they find them

The Pocket neighborhood in Sacramento was identified by the local vector control district as an area of concern for West Nile virus in June 2018. The district is considering aerial spraying in the area.
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The Pocket neighborhood in Sacramento was identified by the local vector control district as an area of concern for West Nile virus in June 2018. The district is considering aerial spraying in the area.

Dump standing water and use mosquito repellent, especially in the west Gulfport area, where officials say a second case of West Nile Virus has been confirmed near Milner Stadium.

The new case is in a neighborhood five blocks beyond a one-mile radius of the stadium, Harrison County Mosquito Control Director Gene Fayard said Friday.

The first case, confirmed Aug. 28, was confirmed within a one-mile radius of the stadium. The Gulfport High School Admirals play at the stadium on 38th Avenue between 15th and 12th streets. The stadium is next to Gulfport Central Middle School and is in a heavy residential area with businesses and churches.

The high school’s next home game is Sept. 28, when the Admirals host the Pascagoula Panthers.

The Mississippi State Department of Health notifies Mosquito Control of confirmed cases, but the state agency does not give a street address, Fayard said.

One spraying truck is still covering the Milner Stadium area and four other trucks are covering other areas, generally in the county, he said.

Mosquitoes love wet, moist areas.

“The rain has made our control efforts harder, since we can’t spray in the rain,” Fayard said.

The region has received increased rain since Tropical Storm Gordon made landfall east of Pascagoula on Sept. 4.

“The standing water will become areas for mosquitoes to lay their eggs,” Fayard said. ”We will monitor the soaked areas and concentrate on areas that appear to hold water with no run-off. We will treat those areas for larvae.”

Mosquito Control workers fight mosquitoes with spray trucks, by treating wet areas where larvae breed and by trapping mosquitoes for testing. Samples are sent to the MSHD for testing, he said.

Mississippi is one of the worst states for West Nile Virus.

The MSHD announced the new Gulfport case and three others Sept. 4, saying there have been 30 cases statewide this year. The state had 63 cases in 2017 and two deaths.

West Nile is a virus that comes from being bitten by an infected mosquito, which gets infected by feeding on infected birds. The mosquitoes then infect the humans and animals they bite, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

July through September is the peak West Nile Virus season.

“While most people who are infected recover without any long-term problems, some develop a more severe infection that can lead to complications and even death — especially those over 50 years of age,” according to State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said.

How to protect yourself:

  • Limit outdoor activities during early morning hours, late evening and after dark.

  • If you must be out during these hours, wear light-colored long-sleeve shirts and long pants.

  • When you are outdoors, use insect repellant containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Follow the directions on the package.
  • Remove standing water around your home and yard to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

  • Use screens on open windows and doors.

  • Watch for health department alerts and warnings about mosquito disease outbreak.

There are no vaccines to prevent West Nile virus or medications to treat it, but over-the-counter pain and fever reducers can help.

Most infected people don’t have symptoms, but about one in five infected people run a fever and have other symptoms, such as a headache, nausea, vomiting, a rash, swollen lymph nodes or muscle weakness, according to the CDC.

About one in 150 infected people develop a serious or sometimes fatal illness, the CDC says.

Byers said the infection can cause encephalitis or meningitis, which can lead to paralysis, coma and possibly death.

A total of 26 cases had been reported statewide as of Aug. 27, with 10 cases in Jackson. The MSDH added first Harrison County — the one in Gulfport — to the list of confirmed cases in that update. A Pearl River County resident’s infection was confirmed in July. Those are the only two South Mississippi counties with confirmed cases of the virus.

Fifty-three cases and two deaths have been reported in Louisiana, a CDC report shows.

At least seven cases have been reported in Alabama.

Harrison County Mosquito Control is warning residents in D'Iberville that a mosquito trapped in the area tested positive for West Nile. They are setting additional traps in the area for further testing, and spraying more in the area.