(The following is a press release from the Mississippi State Department of Health.)
Today the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports four new human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) for 2019, bringing the state total to 13 this year. The new cases were reported in Forrest (2), Hinds (1), and Rankin (1) counties.
So far this year, human cases have been reported in Copiah, Forrest (4), Hinds (2), Jefferson, Jones, Lamar, Leake, Rankin, and Smith counties. In 2018, Mississippi had 50 WNV cases and no deaths.
“Even though we have not seen as many West Nile cases so far this season as in previous years, we are still in the midst of peak season in Mississippi, which is July through September,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “It is still important to protect yourself.”
Byers said while most infected people recover without any long-term problems, some develop a more severe infection that can lead to complications and even death, especially in those over 50 years of age.
Symptoms of WNV infection are often mild and may include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, a rash, muscle weakness or swollen lymph nodes. In a small number of cases, infection can result in encephalitis or meningitis, which can lead to paralysis, coma and possibly death.
The MSDH suggests the following precautions to protect yourself and your family from mosquito-borne illnesses:
• Use a mosquito repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient such as DEET while you are outdoors.
• Remove all sources of standing water around your home and yard to prevent mosquito breeding.
• Wear loose, long clothing to cover the arms and legs when outdoors.
• Avoid areas where mosquitoes are prevalent.