Mississippi breaks West Nile virus record

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - "We are in the middle of the worst epidemic of West Nile virus infection in the state of Mississippi ever and one of the worst in terms of the United States," says senior scientist at Methodist Rehab Center Dr. Art Leis.

Just in the state of Mississippi there are 197 cases of the West Nile virus including 5 deaths.

"Here in Mississippi we've already broken all the records dating back to the large epidemic in 2002 and I think we're going to see many more cases in the near two months," says Dr. Leis.

Dr. Leis stopped by the LiveWell Center in Hattiesburg to share West Nile virus information to several survivors and their families such as the Courcelle's.

"Our lives stopped the moment he got bit by that mosquito, and you know it's not been the same since," says Jennifer Courcelle.

As a wife of a West Nile survivor, Jennifer has seen the effects the West Nile Virus can cause and how it can affect the life of a person.

"West Nile has changed our lives drastically," says Jennifer. "My husband went from being a very strong, productive member of society to being able to, you know, do whatever, lift whatever he could do and he no longer can do that."

For Joe Courcelle, it all started with a fever. At the time he believed it was a sinus infection but later found out it was worst than that. Today, Joe is unable to work and all because of a mosquito bite.

"I'm luck, one of the lucky ones that it didn't paralyze, but I had a lot of problems walking in the beginning, but I'm having some short-term memory loss and I have a serious equilibrium problem right now that they're working on," says Joe.

While there is no cure for the West Nile virus, Dr. Leis says one should avoid dusk and dawn for the next couple of months. He suggests that those who do need to go out during that period of time wear long sleeves, long pants and mosquito repellant.

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