JACKSON, Miss. - Today the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports four new human cases of West Nile virus (WNV). The cases were reported in Coahoma, Hinds, Marion and Pearl River counties. This brings the state total for 2011 to five.
One human case was reported in Tallahatchie County in May. The MSDH only reports confirmed cases to the public.
In 2010, Mississippi had eight WNV cases. Although WNV numbers were lower in 2010 than in the previous year, they are not an indicator for the 2011 WNV season.
We are now in the peak mosquito reproduction months of July, August and September, so it's especially important to take precautions against West Nile and other mosquito-borne illnesses this time of year, said MSDH Acting State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.
Dr. Byers encourages Mississippians to 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.
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, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com/westnile or 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).
Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HealthyMS or follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/msdh