JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports four new human cases of West Nile virus (WNV), bringing the 2016 state total to 36. The reported cases are in Adams, Carroll, George and Jefferson Davis counties.
So far this year, human cases of WNV have been reported in Adams (2), Attala, Calhoun, Carroll, Chickasaw, Copiah (3), Forrest, Hinds (7), George, Grenada, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Lamar (3), Lee, Leflore, Lincoln, Lowndes, Marion (3), Perry, Rankin (3) and Sunflower 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.
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.
“It’s important to continue to take precautions against mosquito exposure even as we move in to cooler times of the year. We have seen cases of West Nile virus occurring year-round in Mississippi,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “Also, people planning holiday travel to areas with active transmission of Zika virus are reminded to take precautions to avoid mosquito exposures, and pregnant women are reminded not to travel to those areas. While we have not had local transmission in our state, it’s important to remember that Zika remains a threat in many parts of the world, and we have already had 23 travel-associated cases in Mississippi.”
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that usually causes only mild illness, but can cause severe birth defects in a developing fetus – including brain damage, hearing and vision loss, and impaired growth – if the mother is infected during pregnancy. 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 areas of the world, including Central and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean and two areas around Miami, Florida.
Persons who travel to areas where Zika is being transmitted should avoid mosquito exposure for a full three weeks after they return home, and take steps to prevent sexual transmission as well, especially for individuals with pregnant partners. For recommendations on how to avoid sexual transmission, visit www.HealthyMS.com/zika.
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
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