Latest Case of West Nile Brings State's Total to 15 So Far This Year

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The number of confirmed human cases have risen in the past weeks, but Mississippi State Department of Health officials say it hasn't been as bad as last year.

There were 48 confirmed cases and two deaths in Mississippi by this time last year. Nationally this year there have been 393 West Nile cases reported, and nine deaths so far.

Officials say the elderly are at greatest risk for more severe illness from mosquito-borne viruses. In 2002 there were 193 human cases of West Nile in Mississippi and 12 deaths. There were 4,000 cases nationwide and 284 deaths.

Health officials are urging state residents to take precautions, including avoiding mosquito-prone areas and wearing insect repellant that contains DEET when outdoors.