Mississippi's request for federal assistance to fight West Nile denied

Mississippi will not be receiving federal emergency funds to fight the West Nile virus outbreak.

The state's request for federal assistance was denied today -- the same day human cases of the virus rose to 91 in Mississippi.

State health officials reported 15 new West Nile cases today.

A total of 34 new cases have been reported in Mississippi this week.

Governor Ronnie Musgrove submitted a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for funds on August 16th.

Musgrove said he was disappointed the request was turned down, but he said the state will continue its fight against the deadly virus.

FEMA director Joe Albaugh said in a letter to Musgrove that the Mississippi Department of Health and Human Services is --qoute -- "the appropriate avenue for addressing a West Nile virus outbreak."

Albaugh sent a similar letter to Louisiana Governor Mike Foster, where 171 people have been diagnosed with the virus that has killed eight in that state.

In Mississippi, human cases were reported Thursday for the first time in Clay, Lafayette and Simpson counties.

Adams, Panola, Quitman, and Washington counties reported human cases for the first time today.

There have been three West Nile virus deaths in Mississippi, one each in Pike, Madison and Hinds counties.

The West Nile virus has been found in 66 counties.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)