By NEMS Daily Journal
Mississippi’s state Department of Health on Monday reported 29 new human cases of the West Nile virus, a mosquito borne disease originating with infected birds, and potentially dangerous to humans.
The latest Mississippi update follows by a week an article in The Washington Post reporting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta say 2012’s case rate “is on track to be the deadliest since the disease showed up in New York City in 1999, perhaps inside a stowaway mosquito on a transatlantic jetliner. There have been 2,636 officially reported cases nationally and 118 deaths …”
None of Mississippi’s new cases is in Northeast Mississippi counties, but the disease is no stranger to our area. The new cases were reported in Adams (2), Claiborne (1), Harrison (1), Hinds (5), Humphreys (1), Jackson (1), Jefferson Davis (1), Lamar (1), Lauderdale (1), Madison (5), Perry (1), Rankin (6), Sunflower (1), Warren (1) and Yazoo (1) counties, bringing the state total to 169 cases and four deaths, The Associated Press reported. In 2011, Mississippi had 52 WNV cases and five deaths.
The Post’s story, reporting more broadly on many kinds of viruses, said, “We are swimming in a sea of viruses. A hundred times smaller than bacteria, these tiny things are little more than stripped-down packets of genetic material with some protein padding. By strict definition, they aren’t even alive. But viruses are robust and promiscuous in their ability to invade organisms and hijack cellular machinery in order to replicate.”
Mississippi’s Department of Health, in its role, continues working with cities and counties to boost mosquito control efforts by providing “map specific information” for spraying efforts.
As many Mississippians know, the health department has developed and printed educational materials that can help prevent or lessen risk of exposure to West Nile-bearing mosquitoes.
Most people bitten don’t become ill; one in every 150 develops serious symptoms, “such as brain inflammation or polio-like paralysis of the arms or legs. A small number die,” The Post reported.
Meanwhile, as widely reported, thousands of Yosemite National Park visitors have been warned that they may have been exposed this summer to rodent-borne hantavirus.
The periodic proliferation of diseases is a matter of scientific fact.
Katherine Spindler, a virologist at the University of Michigan, says in The Post report: “It’s like with any threat – you have to use the right precautions. …. And then you have to live your life.”
Mississippians were susceptible to malaria into the 20th century but learned to adapt. The same must be done for West Nile virus.