The Mississippi State Department of Health reports 29 new human cases of West Nile virus for 2012. The new cases were reported in Adams (2), Claiborne (1), Harrison (1), Hinds (5), Humphreys (1), Jackson (1), Jefferson Davis (1), Lamar (1), Lauderdale (1), Madison (5), Perry (1), Rankin (6), Sunflower (1), Warren (1), and Yazoo (1) counties, bringing the state total to 169 cases and four deaths.
In 2011, Mississippi had 52 WNV cases and five deaths. The MSDH only reports laboratory-confirmed cases to the public.
The heath department says it's working with city and county officials to boost mosquito control efforts in their jurisdictions by providing map specific information for spraying efforts.
The MSDH is also working with the Mississippi High School Athletics Association and the Mississippi Independent Schools Association in announcing public service messages at high school football games and other athletic events.
Peak season for WNV is July, August, and September in Mississippi, but mosquito-borne illnesses can occur year-round.
The MSDH says Mississippians should take appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of contracting WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses: remove sources of standing water, especially after rainfall; install or repair screens on windows and doors; and if you will be in mosquito-prone areas, wear protective clothing (such as long-sleeved shirts and pants) during peak times from dusk until dawn, and use repellents containing DEET, or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered repellents for use on human skin. Always read the manufacturer's directions carefully before you put on a repellent.
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, call toll-free 1-877-978-6453 during regular business hours or visit the MSDH website. A link is provided below.