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Oxford Emergency Management talks preventing measles, West Nile virus

With the threat of measles and West Nile virus becoming very real in North Mississippi, Oxford emergency management director Jimmy Allgood has provided a few tips to stay safe.

Allgood stepped up to the podium during Tuesday’s meeting of the Oxford Board of Aldermen and explained that, although no cases of measles or West Nile virus have been identified in the LOU community, there is still a threat.

“Currently, there’s a measles outbreak in the United States,” Allgood said. “We just want to remind the community to make sure their kids and everybody is current on their vaccinations.”

While no measles cases have been reported in Mississippi this year, Allgood explained the possibility that students returning to Ole Miss and Northwest Community College for the fall semester might come from affected areas, and encouraged residents to take precautions against the illness, which was thought to be eradicated in 2000.

The number one preventative measure to ward off measles, or any illness, is hand washing. Symptoms of measles include high fever, runny nose and coughing. In Europe, he said, there are about 41,000 people who have contracted measles this year.

In terms of West Nile virus, Allgood provided a few specific tips to protect oneself from the illness.

“So far, we don’t have any cases in our immediate area, but just remember to protect yourself against mosquitos with an approved repellent,” he said. “If you’re out at night or in the evening, wear long-sleeved clothing that’s resistant to the mosquitos.”

Deet-based repellent is ideal in the fight against West Nile virus, Allgood said, but parents of small children should take care in making sure their repellent is no more than 25 percent deet, as higher amounts can be dangerous. With recent amounts of rainfall, he said, it’s a good idea to check around homes for standing water. Even an upturned bottle cap could be a breeding ground for the pests.

There have been 26 reported cases of West Nile virus in Mississippi this year, affecting 14 counties, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health. Two counties near Oxford have reported cases this year, with two in Calhoun County and one in Itawamba County. The area with the highest reported number of West Nile cases is Hinds County, which comes in at 10 cases.

Allgood said those who have questions about protecting themselves against measles or West Nile virus are welcome to contact the emergency management office at 662-816-7469 or oxfordema@oxfordms.net.