Mississippi health officials have confirmed two people have died from West Nile virus. Seven human cases of the virus were recently confirmed, the first reported human cases in Mississippi this year.
The confirmed cases were found in Covington, Harrison, Leflore, Lincoln, Rankin and Simpson Counties. There is only one case in each county, except for Rankin which has two cases. The deaths were in Rankin and Lincoln Counties.
Other suspected human cases are being looked at in Washington, Hinds and Holmes Counties. There have been thirty-two birds, which have tested positive for the virus and three horses this year.
West Nile virus rarely kills. About one in 150 people who get it will develop potentially deadly encephalitis or meningitis. Last year there were 9,862 West Nile cases and 264 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2003, there were 83 human cases of West Nile virus in Mississippi and two deaths. In 2002, there were 193 human cases of West Nile virus and twelve deaths.