Mississippi health officials are warning residents to take precautions to protect themselves against the West Nile virus and ticks. MPB's Alexis Ware reports
The Mississippi Department of Health reports one person has been infected with West Nile virus in Forrest County, the first one this year. Dr. Paul Byers is the state epidemiologist. He suggests using mosquito repellent and wearing long pants and sleeves to reduce skin exposure while outdoors.
He says beware of the time of day mosquitos are most active.
"Avoid those times of day when mosquitos are most active especially when evening hours and the early morning hours when it's cooler that's when this mosquito bites the most," Byers says.
Most people infected with West Nile never show any symptoms. However, some may experience headaches and flu-like symptoms. Byers says a small percentage of people may get severe form of West Nile that leads to encephalitis, meningitis or paralysis.
West Nile virus is most prevalent during hot summer months between July and September.
Ticks are another insect to steer clear of this summer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there has been a rise in tick borne illnesses.
Byers says watch out for ticks that may stay on your skin even after you've left an outdoor area.
"It's important if you've been out in areas where you know there are ticks to check when you get back. Make sure you don't have any, because remember they can hid in places and be easily overlooked. If you find one, remove it immediately. If you become ill, tell your doctor that you had a tick bite," Byers says.
According to the Department of Health, in 2016 there were 43 West Nile virus cases in the state and two deaths.