Five new human cases of West Nile virus confirmed in Mississippi

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The Mississippi State Department of Health has confirmed five additional human cases of West Nile virus - one in Hinds County, one in Lee County, one in Pike County and two in Rankin County residents.

This brings the state’s total number of identified human cases to 25 and three deaths. None of the new cases resulted in fatalities. This time last year, Mississippi reported 69 human cases of West Nile virus and one death.

According to State Epidemiologist Dr. Mills McNeill, health officials are still awaiting final test results for a total of 13 suspected human cases of West Nile virus in Adams, Bolivar, Copiah, Chickasaw, Harrison, Hinds, Lincoln, Madison and Washington counties.

Dr. McNeill said, “Mosquito-borne viruses are identified every year in Mississippi, and our improved statewide surveillance system for West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne viruses helps us successfully detect these cases.”

He added, “West Nile virus is here to stay in Mississippi. We know how West Nile is spread, and it is important that we all remain vigilant by taking personal precautionary measures and keeping our environments mosquito-free. Mosquito-borne illnesses, such as West Nile virus, are preventable.”

Mississippians can reduce their risk of contracting West Nile virus by taking simple precautions. Such measures: removing sources of standing water; avoiding mosquito-prone areas, especially at night when mosquito activity is highest; wearing protective clothing when in mosquito-prone areas; and using insect repellants that contain DEET when outdoors.

Symptoms of West Nile virus infection are often mild or flu-like and may include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, a rash, muscle weakness and swollen lymph nodes. In a small number of people, infection can cause encephalitis or meningitis which may result in paralysis, coma and possibly death.

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