Officials urging local athletes to be cautious of West Nile virus

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 14, 2002

[08/14/02]Forty-eight cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed so far in Mississippi, but athletic officials are not taking any drastic steps as football season approaches.

Officials with the Vicksburg Warren School District and the Mississippi High School Activities Association said athletes need to be way of the mosquito-transmitted disease just like everyone else.

“I’d tell coaches to take every precaution they can, and to use the sprays,” said Ennis Proctor, Executive Director of the MHSAA. “If they see standing water on the field, get rid of it. And it is those that practice later in the evening that may face problems.”

There have not been any cases of the virus found in Vicksburg, nor have there been any complaints from high school athletics about the virus.

“I live about two-and-a-half blocks from Vicksburg High School and have been outside at the same time as they have, and (the mosquitoes) haven’t been real bad,” Vicksburg Warren Athletic Director Lum Wright Jr. said. “I think the city has been doing a real good job of maintaining.”

Officials agree that mosquito spray, eliminating stagnant water and early afternoon practices are the best ways to avoid threat of the virus since mosquitoes most often look for blood meals at dawn and dusk.

There is also warning that those individuals that are out of shape may face the most danger.

“I’m not minimizing the effect it may have, but the virus affects those with immune systems that are down,” Proctor said.

Reassuring news for athletes and citizens whose activities coincide with the outdoors.

“I think the precaution with the athletes is very, very similar to us, just as individuals,” Wright said. “We’re outside and we have to be alert to this. They say it doesn’t take but one bite, so you don’t know anything more to do than just hope that we’re taking those precautions, and the city is taking them, and we’re also taking them. I don’t know how we are going to be able to go outside without being in danger somewhat.

“We just have to take precautions and make sure we monitor our kids and also the things that we enjoy doing.”