JACKSON, Miss. — Today the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) confirms the death of a Hinds County resident from West Nile virus (WNV), the first WNV human death of 2016.
“This sadly serves as an important reminder of the severity of West Nile virus, even though most of us will have no symptoms at all or the illness is mild,” said newly named MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “We are currently in peak West Nile season in Mississippi, so all residents should be mindful of protecting themselves, regardless of whether there has been a case reported in your county.”
In addition to the Hinds County death, the MSDH reports two new human cases of WNV in residents of Lee and Marion counties, bringing the 2016 total to 18 in Mississippi.
So far this year, human cases of WNV have been reported in Calhoun, Chickasaw, Copiah (2), Hinds (5), Grenada, Lamar (2), Lee, Leflore, Lowndes, Marion, Perry and Rankin counties. The MSDH only reports laboratory-confirmed cases to the public. In 2015, Mississippi had 38 WNV cases and one death.
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.
The MSDH suggests the following precautions to protect yourself and your environment from mosquito-borne illnesses:
- Use a mosquito repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient such as 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.
For more information on mosquito-borne illnesses, visit the MSDH website at HealthyMS.com/westnile and HealthyMS.com/zika.
Follow MSDH by e-mail and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.
Press Contact: MSDH Office of Communications, (601) 576-7667
Note to media: After hours or during emergencies, call 1-866-HLTHY4U (1-866-458-4948)