Today, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports six new human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) for 2008, bringing the state’s total number of WNV cases to 84 with two deaths. The new cases are in Calhoun, Hinds (2), Jasper, Marion and Panola counties. The MSDH reports both confirmed and probable cases to the public.
Since March 2008, WNV cases have been reported in Calhoun, Clarke, Forrest (4), George (2), Grenada, Harrison (2), Hinds (20), Jasper (3), Jones (12), Lamar (2), Lawrence, Leake (2), Leflore (2), Lincoln (2), Madison (4), Marion (3), Monroe (2), Neshoba (7), Panola, Pearl River, Rankin (3), Scott (4), Simpson, Sunflower, Washington and Wayne counties. Five cases of LaCrosse Encephalitis (LAC) have been reported in Adams, Amite, Harrison, Hinds and Yazoo counties. Six cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis and two cases of WNV have been reported in horses.
The MSDH conducts statewide mosquito testing with its most intensive surveillance during the peak WNV mosquito reproduction months of July, August and September. It is important to remember that mosquito-borne diseases, including WNV, occur statewide and throughout the year.
The MSDH encourages all Mississippians to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of contracting WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses: remove sources of standing water; avoid mosquito-prone areas, especially between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active; wear protective clothing (such as long-sleeved shirts and pants) when in mosquito-prone areas; and apply a DEET-based mosquito repellent according to the manufacturer’s directions.
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.
For more information on WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses, a checklist to reduce the mosquito population in and around homes, and a brochure on WNV call the WNV toll-free hotline from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 1-877-WST-NILE (1-877-978-6453).