The Mississippi Department of Health (MDH) Thursday confirmed five new West Nile virus (WNV) human cases: three in Forrest County and two in Lauderdale County. These new human cases increase the total WNV human cases in Mississippi to 17 with two resulting in death. This time last year, Mississippi reported nine human cases and no deaths.
Mississippi’s WNV season usually peaks in July, August and September. State Epidemiologist Dr. Mills McNeill encourages Mississippians to actively practice protective measures.
“Now is the time for Mississippians to ‘fight the bite’ and remember to take simple steps to reduce their risk of contracting West Nile virus,” said Dr. McNeill.
Mississippians can take the following simple precautions to reduce their risk of contracting West Nile virus: remove sources of standing water; avoid mosquito-prone areas, especially at night when mosquito activity is highest; wear protective clothing (such as long-sleeved shirts and pants) when in mosquito-prone areas when possible; and apply a mosquito repellent according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Symptoms of West Nile virus infection are often mild or flu-like and may include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, rash, muscle weakness or swollen lymph nodes. In a small number of people, infection can result in encephalitis or meningitis which can lead to paralysis, coma and possibly death.
For more information on West Nile virus and mosquito-borne viruses and the latest WNV statistics, the public can visit the Mississippi Department of Health’s website at www.HealthyMS.com or call the West Nile virus toll-free hotline from 8 a.m. until
5 p.m. at 1-877-WST-NILE (1-877-978-6453).