Today the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports four new human cases of West Nile virus (WNV), bringing the total for 2015 to 11 cases. The reported cases are in Forrest, Hinds and Rankin (2) counties.
So far this year, cases have been reported in Adams, Covington, Forrest (2), Hinds (3), Rankin (3) and Simpson counties.
The MSDH only reports laboratory-confirmed cases to the public. In 2014, Mississippi had 43 WNV cases and seven deaths.
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.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs reminds Mississippians that the majority of WNV cases are reported in August and September, so it is important to protect yourself.
The MSDH suggests the following precautions to protect yourself and your environment from mosquito-borne illnesses:
- Use a recommended mosquito repellent that contains 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.