The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports one new human case of West Nile virus (WNV) for 2019, bringing the state total to seven this year. The new case was reported in Forrest County.
So far this year, human cases have been reported in Copiah, Forrest (2), Hinds, Lamar, Leake and Smith counties. In 2018, Mississippi had 50 WNV cases and no deaths.
Most WNV cases occur from July through September in Mississippi, said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.
“Just because your county has not had a case reported yet does not mean that the virus is not there. We know that West Nile virus exists throughout the state, and you still need to be aware and protect yourself,” he 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.
For more information on mosquito-borne illnesses, visit the MSDH website at HealthyMS.com/westnile.