By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
Summer is officially over today, but the mosquitoes haven’t gotten the memo.
So the potential for West Nile Virus will linger a while longer.
“There hasn’t been cold enough weather,” to reduce mosquito activity, said Dr. Paul Byers, acting state epidemiologist. “It’s likely to get hot again before it cools off for good.”
Peak West Nile season can continue well into October, and because Mississippi’s mild winters leave the doors open, the state has seen a case reported in January before.
The Mississippi State Department of Health has confirmed 33 cases of West Nile Virus, including two deaths in Jones and Pearl River counties. In 2010, there were eight cases and no deaths.
“We do have higher number of reported cases this year,” including two documented deaths, Byers said. Although it’s significantly lower than record years when Mississippi had hundreds of West Nile cases reported.
So far, there haven’t been any cases of West Nile confirmed in Northeast Mississippi this summer.
“You still need to take proper precautions,” Byers said. “ We don’t know for certain if there will be cases in the area, but we do know there is the potential.”
A good rain initially helps flush out the Southern house mosquito – the main skeeter that can transmit West Nile in Mississippi. However, as the water evaporates, the conditions ripen for more mosquito habitat.
“We know these types of mosquitos like to breed in small areas of water,” Byers said.
They are happiest in standing water that has sat for days and weeks, especially if there’s a lot of organic matter in the water, Byers said.
So don’t put away the bug spray yet, and do add eliminating standing water to your weekend yard work.
“You want to limit the risks of mosquito exposure,” Byers said.