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Doctors Warn West Nile Still Dangerous in Fall, Winter

Mississippi health experts are warning the fall can be as deadly as the summer when it comes to West Nile. Peak months for the virus are July, August and September, but it can strike year round.
DESOTO COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - Enjoying the beautiful weather? Mississippi health experts are warning the fall can be as deadly as the summer when it comes to West Nile. Peak months for the virus are July, August and September, but it can strike year round.

Mississippi's number of West Nile cases is growing by the day. The state now has 202 people infected, five have died.

Mississippi has broken a record in 2012 with ten more cases than it's ever had and the year is far from over. The health department can only hope the worst has passed.

"We do get cases reported in October, and have had cases reported in November and December," says Dr. Paul Byers, Deputy State Epidemiologist.

Cooler weather is no reason to let down your guard. "We have West Nile virus from top to bottom in this state," Byers says. "We certainly hope we begin to see a decline in number of cases we get from week to week."

But there's no way to predict that. The department of health says mosquitoes can still transfer the disease.

"Mosquitoes tend to be active in the evening and early morning when it's a bit cooler," he adds.

"I've been living in Mississippi now about 12 years and had no clue," says Mark Taitano.

Doctors are encouraging everyone to "do the kinds of things we've been saying the entire summer so far," says Byars. Like stay away from standing water and wear bug spray. Colder weather should help people cover up more.

"Long sleeves and long pants will help reduce exposed areas," he says.

Experts have no explanation for why this year is so bad. In 2010 there were only eight cases in Mississippi for the entire year. Doctors say it's difficult to predict how each season will vary.

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