The Mississippi State Department of Health has reported the state’s first human case of West Nile virus for 2013 occurred in Madison County.
Only laboratory-confirmed cases are reported to the public. In 2012, Mississippi had 247 WNV cases and five deaths.
"This is actually not the first time we have had cases reported this early in Mississippi. We have had cases in March before and as early as January in previous years," said said MSDH Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.
Byers said this is a reminder that WNV can occur year-round, so people should take appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of contracting WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses.
Tips to avoid it include removing sources of standing water, especially after rainfall; if you will be in mosquito-prone areas, wear protective clothing (such as long-sleeved shirts and pants) during peak times from dusk until dawn; and use a recommended mosquito repellent according to manufacturer’s directions.
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.
For more information on WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses, click the link below or call the WNV toll-free hotline from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 1-877-WST-NILE (1-877-978-6453).