The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports two new human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) for 2019, bringing the state total to five this year. The new cases were reported in Forrest and Lamar counties. Three previous cases were reported in Smith, Hinds, and Copiah counties in July.
In 2018, Mississippi had 50 WNV cases and no deaths. The first case was reported in mid-July.
“While most Mississippians are aware of the existence of West Nile virus, it’s easy to forget how dangerous it can be. We need to remember that we have WNV cases in Mississippi every year and that everyone needs to act now to reduce their risk of infection regardless of where they live in the state. Most cases occur from July through September,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “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, light-colored, 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.