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Meridian may beef-up mosquito control

By Staff
FOGGER – Carl Bickham, department manager at Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, demonstrates a fogger for mosquitoes in the store's parking lot on Thursday. Mosquitoes can spread the West Nile Virus to humans. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Aug. 9, 2002
Meridian could get a second truck to spray neighborhoods for mosquitoes, reducing the threat of West Nile virus.
Meridian now has one truck equipped with a sprayer that travels different sections of the city each weekday evening. Lauderdale County also has a truck, but no regular spraying program.
News about a possible second mosquito truck came as Lauderdale County health officials await the outcome of test results to determine if a dead blue jay found Monday was carrying the virus.
Already, the state has 18 confirmed and 16 possible cases of residents with West Nile virus. And on Thursday, the state health officer said a Hinds County resident likely died from the disease.
Byron Tiller, an environmentalist with the state health department, said he expects test results on the blue jay within two weeks. He said Lauderdale County submitted other birds for tests earlier this year.
So far, Tiller said, the virus has not appeared in Lauderdale County. Scott County is the closest appearance of the virus to date, he said, with one person listed as a probable case and a horse with a confirmed case.
Tiller said elderly people have the hardest time with the West Nile virus. Many people who contract it do not know they have it and he said the death rate is extremely low.
Symptoms are similar to the flu. The virus is spread among humans by mosquitoes that transfer the disease after biting infected animals, including blue jays and crows.
Tiller said if anyone finds a dead bird that has not begun to decompose, they should put it in a plastic bag and submit it to the Lauderdale County Health Department.
In Meridian, Jackson said his office has had several calls from concerned citizens wanting their neighborhoods sprayed for mosquitoes.
But in Lauderdale County, administrator Rex Hiatt said it would be impractical for a regular countywide mosquito spraying program. Hiatt said the county has too many miles of roads to be effective.
In the city, he said, the mist from mosquito sprayers drifts into neighborhoods along city streets. But in the county, he said, homes are spread out sometimes a quarter of a mile or more from the road.