Mississippi Records First West Nile Death

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The Mississippi Department of Health will not release the name of a fatal victim of West Nile Virus or any other information, citing privacy issues.

State epidemiologist Dr. Mills McNeill says the recent death should serve as "a reminder to all of us that West Nile virus is here."

Seven human cases have been reported this year, four in Hinds County and one each in Jones, Pike and Rankin Counties. The state's latest victim became infected with the virus in July.

West Nile peaked in Mississippi with 193 human cases and 12 deaths in 2002. Since then, the state has seen big drops each year in the number of human cases. In 2004, there were 52 human cases and four deaths. In 2003, there were 83 human cases and two deaths.

Symptoms are often flu-like and include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, rash, muscle weakness and swollen lymph nodes. In severe cases, it can progress to a brain inflammation causing paralysis, coma and possibly death.