JACKSON, Miss. - Today the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports two new human cases of West Nile virus (WNV). The cases were reported in Hinds and Forrest counties. This brings the state total for 2011 to nine.
So far this year, cases have been reported in Coahoma, Forrest, Hinds (2), Jones, Marion, Pearl River (2) and Tallahatchie counties. The MSDH only reports confirmed cases to the public.
During the peak season months of July, August and September, the MSDH conducts its most intensive statewide mosquito testing. Although there have been positive WNV mosquito samples throughout the state, recent tests have shown several positive WNV samples in the Hattiesburg area. While positive WNV mosquito samples are an indication that WNV infected mosquitoes are in the area, all Mississippians should take proper precautions this time of year. Cases are often reported in areas where no positive WNV mosquito samples have been identified.
"Positive WNV mosquito samples are a good indicator that West Nile virus is in the area," said Acting State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. We want to remind all Mississippi residents that we're in peak season and West Nile is still a threat throughout Mississippi. All residents should make sure to take precautions for themselves and their families and ensure that their home area is free of standing water."
Mississippians are encouraged 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).
Also, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HealthyMS or follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/msdh.
NOTE TO MEDIA: We will send a weekly mosquito-borne illness update as necessary. For the latest information and real-time case updates, visit the WNV page on the MSDH website.