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West Nile cases dropping significantly in 2013

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Updated: 9/18/2013 12:14 am
BOONEVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) -- Trucks spewing fog up and down city streets are as commonplace as sweltering temperatures in northeast Mississippi during the summer months.

After all, in the Magnolia State, the mosquito is king.

With that moniker comes the inevitable risk to residents of contracting the West Nile Virus.

This year is different, though, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs.

"Certainly, we've had a lot fewer cases this year than last year, but we do know the case rates vary wildly from year to year. It's unpredictable to some extent," Dobbs said.

Thirty cases thus far have been confirmed by the Mississippi State Department of Health. If that sounds low, that's because it is. This year marked the second-lowest case rate the Magnolia State's seen in the last decade.

Nine months into 2012, for example, 167 cases had been confirmed in the state.

That's five times what we've seen so far in 2013.

"You can tell pretty quickly that we'll have a peak and then there's been a lull in subsequent years. Probably several factors support that trend," Dobbs said.

Those factors include weather and geography, to name a few.

Along with that, Dobbs said efforts from local communities also help keep mosquito populations down.

"Some counties that have very robust mosquito control activities -- even though they would be at high risk for West Nile issues, they have low numbers [and] less cases than some of their neighbors," Dobbs said.

"We need to keep doing what we're doing," Booneville Mayor Derrick Blythe said.

The city's street department uses mosquito fog four days a week, each day in a different section. Booneville has also entered into agreements with the towns of Rienzi and Marietta to spray one day a week.

"Nobody really likes the fog. They all go running inside when the bug truck comes. But when you see it paying off, it's well worth it," Blythe said.

Several cities throughout northeast Mississippi spray mosquito fog throughout the summer months. 

So far, only one WNV case has been reported in northeast Mississippi, in Lowndes County.
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