Today the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) confirms the death of a Yazoo County resident from West Nile virus (WNV), the first human death from WNV for 2014. A new human case of WNV in Wilkinson County has also been confirmed.

West Nile virus
Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito/CDC

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

The MSDH is also reporting one new case of chikungunya virus in a Mississippi resident who recently returned from the Dominican Republic. This is the sixth case of chikungunya reported in a Mississippi resident.

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.

Mississippians should take appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of contracting WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses year-round: remove sources of standing water, especially after rainfall; if you will be in mosquito-prone areas, wear protective clothing (such as long-sleeved shirts and pants) during peak times from dusk until dawn; and use a recommended mosquito repellent according to manufacturer’s directions. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page