Today, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports 2008 was the mildest West Nile virus (WNV) season in Mississippi since 2004, with 65 confirmed cases and three deaths. MSDH previously reported 101 cases during the peak months of the WNV season. In October 2008, the CDC informed states that a WNV test used by a private laboratory reported inaccurate results. The CDC and MSDH repeated many of these tests, and some individuals previously reported as Mississippi cases did not test positive for WNV, resulting in a reduction in the total number of reported cases for 2008.
During the 2008 WNV season, confirmed cases were reported in Calhoun, Forrest (4), Hinds (21), Jackson, Jasper, Jones (10), Lamar, Lawrence, Leake, Leflore (4), Lincoln (3), Madison (6), Marion (3), Monroe, Neshoba, Panola, Pearl River, Rankin (2), Scott and Simpson counties. Deaths were reported in Forrest, Hinds and Panola counties. Additionally, there were two cases of Flavivirus with one death, three cases of LaCrosse Encephalitis and one case of Jamestown Canyon virus.
"Although we are pleased with the low numbers of West Nile virus cases for this year, it is important that all Mississippians continue to protect themselves and their family members to reduce the risk of contracting West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Mary Currier. "Mosquito-borne diseases occur statewide and throughout the year in Mississippi."
The MSDH encourages all Mississippians to take the following precautions year round to reduce the risk of contracting WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses: remove sources of standing water; avoid mosquito-prone areas, especially between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active; wear protective clothing (such as long-sleeved shirts and pants) when in mosquito-prone areas; and apply a DEET-based mosquito repellent according to the 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).