JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports four new human case of West Nile virus (WNV), bringing the 2016 state total to 19. The reported cases are in Hinds (2), Lee and Marion counties.
So far this year, human cases of WNV have been reported in Calhoun, Chickasaw, Copiah (2), Hinds (6), Grenada, Lamar (2), Lee, Leflore, Lowndes, Marion, Perry and Rankin counties. There has been one WNV death reported in a Hinds County resident. The MSDH only reports laboratory-confirmed cases to the public. In 2015, Mississippi had 38 WNV cases and one death.
Additionally, today the MSDH reports two new travel-associated cases of Zika virus, bringing the 2016 total to 20 in Mississippi. The cases were reported in a resident of Lafayette County who recently traveled to Nicaragua and a resident of Prentiss County associated with travel to the Caribbean Island of Grenada.
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that causes severe birth defects in a developing fetus – including brain damage, hearing and vision loss, and impaired growth – if the mother is infected during pregnancy. Zika virus infection can cause a mild illness with symptoms (fever, joint pain, conjunctivitis or rash) lasting for several days to a week, but 80 percent of those infected have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Death is very rare. The MSDH strongly advises pregnant women not to travel to areas where Zika is actively being transmitted.
Zika is now being actively transmitted in approximately 50 countries, including Central and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean and two areas in Miami, Florida. The breed of mosquito that is spreading Zika in those areas – Aedes aegypti – has not been detected in Mississippi since the early 1990s. The MSDH is currently conducting surveillance for Aedes mosquito populations in the state.
Persons who travel to areas where Zika is being transmitted should avoid mosquito exposures for a full three weeks after they return home. Zika can also be spread through sexual transmission, even by those with no symptoms of infection. Persons returning from Zika-affected areas, and their sexual partners, should take steps to prevent sexual transmission. This is especially important for individuals with pregnant partners to reduce the risk of infection during pregnancy. For recommendations on how to avoid sexual transmission, visit www.HealthyMS.com/zika.
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)