West Nile Outbreak

West Nile Virus
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Health officials think the West Nile virus might follow a similar track as its mosquito-borne cousin -- St. Louis encephalitis.

In 1975, St. Louis encephalitis spread through 29 states, killing 95 people and infecting about 3,000 others. No outbreaks on that scale have occurred since.

Transmission rates of both St. Louis encephalitis and West Nile are dependent on ecological and environmental factors, such as rainfall and temperature, said Sally Slavinski, an epidemiologist for the Mississippi Department of Health.

Given the history of West Nile and other illnesses, it's not likely the outbreak will increase exponentially next year, Slavinski said.

In 1999, seven people died and 55 others were hospitalized in New York with West Nile -- but that state hasn't reported any cases this summer.

Nationwide this year, 135 people have been infected with West Nile -- 41 in Mississippi.

County death is likely because of the virus. Officials blame the virus for seven deaths in Louisiana, and say a Hinds