ST. LOUIS (AP) - Don't forget the bug spray as you head outdoors for Fourth of July picnics and fireworks. The prime season for West Nile virus has arrived.
The Missouri Health Department says human cases of the mosquito-borne illness typically begin surfacing in July and continue through October.
The number of West Nile cases in Missouri has declined over the past six years, but health officials say the threat still exists.
Just 15 cases were confirmed in Missouri last year. But health officials say that's probably because of cool weather in the early summer, plus frequent rain that tended to flush out many mosquitoes from breeding locations.
About 450 Missourians have contracted West Nile and 24 have died since the virus was first reported in the state in 2002.