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New West Nile, Zika Virus cases confirmed

JACKSON, MISS– One new case of West Nile Virus and two new cases of Zika Virus have been confirmed in the state, the Mississippi Department of Health announced Tuesday. 

The newest case of West Nile Virus was diagnosed in Rankin county. A total of four cases have been diagnosed in 2016 this year, in Lamar, Grenada, Hinds and Rankin counties. In 2015, there were 38 confirmed cases and one death.

Two new cases of Zika Virus were reported in DeSoto county and Madison county. The DeSoto county patient had traveled to Jamaica, while the Madison county patient had traveled to Guatemala. Three other travel-related cases had been discovered earlier this year.

West Nile Virus is transmitted locally by mosquitoes across Mississippi. It can be prevented by taking certain precautions, according to State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs.

“The most important thing to remember is that West Nile Virus is in Mississippi and continues to be a major health threat,” said Dobbs. “We are now in peak West Nile season, and we advise all Mississippians to continue to take precautions to prevent infection as we move through the late months.”

Symptoms of West Nile Virus include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, a rash, muscle weakness or swollen lymph nodes. Often, these symptoms are mild. In a small number of cases the virus can lead to death.

Zika Virus diagnoses in Mississippi so far have been linked to recent international travel. The sickness, spread by mosquitoes, may cause serious birth defects; women who are pregnant are encouraged to not travel to areas where Zika is abundant, such as Africa, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Central, and South America. While the virus has been proven to bring about life-altering birth defects in infants born of an infected mother, 80 percent of all cases of Zika Virus are mild, if any symptoms are shown at all.

The state department of health recommended the following to ward off mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • Wear DEET while outdoors
  • Remove all sources of standing water around the home and yard to hinder mosquito breeding.
  • Wear loose, light-colored clothing to cover the arms and legs when outdoors
  • Avoid areas where mosquitoes are prevalent

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