The Mississippi State Department of Health reported Tuesday that there are three new cases of West Nile virus in the state. That makes the total count to 29 with two deaths.
The new cases are in Leflore, Neshoba 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 (5), Hinds (4), Lamar, Lee (2), Leflore, Marion, Monroe, Neshoba, Rankin (3) and Washington (2) counties.
Two cases of St. Louis encephalitis have been reported in Forrest County. The Board of Animal Health has reported one case of WNV in a horse.
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 health department 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.