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Illnesses by way of mosquito bites are on the rise

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Illnesses by way of mosquito bites are on the rise
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning Mississippians about the growing number of illnesses from insect bites. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports.

Karen Hill says she and her neighbors enjoy sitting outside after a long day. In 2012, the Jackson resident was bitten by a mosquito carrying the West Nile virus. Hill says she's fortunate to be alive.

"I can live with the symptoms. The headaches, the tremors, just a lot of different things. My lungs were even affected by it. So it's difficult to do any exercises, I mean I do it, but I get out of breath easily," said Hill.

CDC is reporting an alarming uptick in illnesses from mosquito bites across the U.S. Last year in Mississippi, 63 West Nile cases were reported to the Mississippi Department of Health.

Dr. Art Leis with the Methodist Rehabilitation Center has some advice on prevention.

"And the first and probably most important is to empty all standing water in your yard. The second recommendation is to avoid the peak hours when mosquitoes are most active. Mosquitoes are more active in dusk and dawn," said Leis.

Leis says a patient recently told him she believed she was infected six years ago but doctors never confirmed West Nile by testing her blood. Leis says physicians must do a better job checking for the virus.

"We're not treating the virus. The virus is gone, it's long gone. But their symptoms persist. Years later, I have to try to figure out what she had when it would've been very simple to check a test in 2012," said Leis.

Tips on how to keep you and your family safe are available online at cdc.gov. Ashley Norwood, MPB News.