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West Nile cases on the rise for 2018

Today the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports three new human cases of West Nile virus (WNV), bringing the state’s total to 40 so far for 2018. The reported cases are in Harrison and Washington counties.

So far this year human cases have been reported in Adams, Attala, Calhoun, Copiah, Forrest, Harrison, Hinds, Itawamba, Jones, Lauderdale, Madison, Marion, Oktibbeha, Pearl River, Rankin, Walthall and Washington counties. In 2017, Mississippi had 63 WNV cases and two deaths.

“While peak West Nile season in Mississippi typically ends in September, we’re still seeing activity statewide, so it’s important for all Mississippians to take precautions, regardless of reports of human cases in specific counties,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.

Byers said that while most people with WNV recover without any long-term problems, some develop a more severe infection that can lead to complications and even death — especially 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 long, loose 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.

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