The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports five additional human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) for 2009, bringing the state’s total to 34 with two deaths. The new cases are in Harrison, Hinds, Pearl River, Prentiss and Rankin counties. The MSDH reports both confirmed and probable cases to the public.
Since July 2009, WNV cases have been reported in Clay, DeSoto, Forrest (6), Harrison (6), Hinds (5), Lamar, Lee (2), Leflore, Marion, Monroe, Neshoba, Pearl River, Prentiss, Rankin (4) and Washington (2) counties. Two cases of St. Louis encephalitis have been reported in Forrest County. The Board of Animal Health has reported two cases of WNV in a horse, one each in Harrison and Lafayette counties.
The MSDH conducts statewide mosquito testing with its most intensive surveillance during the peak WNV mosquito reproduction months of July, August and September. To date, seven mosquito samples have tested positive for WNV – four in Harrison County and one each in Hinds, Jackson and Washington counties. It is important to remember that mosquito-borne diseases, including WNV, occur statewide and throughout the year.
The MSDH encourages Mississippians to take the following precautions 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 instructions.
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 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).