The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is confirming two new human cases of West Nile Virus (WNV). The reported cases are in Adams and Rankin Counties.

So far this year, WNV cases have been reported in Adams (1), Hinds (1), Newton (1), and Rankin (2) counties. The MSDH only reports laboratory-confirmed cases to the public. In 2013, Mississippi had 45 WNV cases and five deaths.

West Nile virus can cause severe illness in people and horses, although only about 20% of those infected will develop any symptoms at all, usually flu-like: fever, headache, body aches, and muscle weakness. Some people, especially the elderly, may experience more severe symptoms including high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, and/or encephalitis or inflammation of brain, which can lead to paralysis or death.

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.
  • Travelers to the Caribbean should take precautions against mosquito exposure. Please for more information.