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Now is time to focus on prevention of West Nile virus

NATCHEZ — Mosquito season officially does not begin for another couple of months, but the blood-sucking insects are already out and about enjoying spring.

Adams County Supervisor and Extension Service Director David Carter said he has noticed mosquitoes while spending time outdoors.

“They’re out, but they’re not really bad,” he said. “I’m sure before long they’ll get bad.”

Mississippi State Department of Health Spokeswoman Liz Sharlot said mosquitoes are out year-round, but are most active July through September.

Mississippi had a record 247 cases of West Nile Virus reported last year, five of which resulted in death.

Adams County had six cases of West Nile Virus reported to the state in 2012.

Sharlot said it is nearly impossible to give an outlook on the upcoming West Nile season.

“There’s no way to pull out a crystal ball to look into to tell,” she said.

Last year was “incredibly busy,” Sharlot said, and some people theorize that it could be the same this year.

“Some people say ‘OK, we had a warmer winter, so there’s going to be more West Nile Vile Virus.’ I don’t think there is a sure-fire way to tell.”

Sharlot said MSDH urges people to be more vigilant against mosquitoes because of the record number of cases last year.

Mayor Butch Brown said the city is assessing where mosquitoes are the worst in the city by trapping the insects. The assessment is in preparation to begin mosquito-control spraying.

“(Public Works Supervisor) Justin (Dollar) has already bought the materials for this year, we have the machines and trucks, and we’re ready to go to work when we figure out where we should spray first,” Brown said.

Carter said the county may have mosquito larvicide available again this year for pickup by residents at the road department.

Carter said preparation and prevention are keys when fighting mosquitoes and West Nile Virus.

The MSDH recommends eliminating standing water that can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, as well as using mosquito repellent and wearing long pants and a long-sleeved shirt to avoid mosquito bites.