Mississippi Reports Additional West Nile Virus Human Cases

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The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports two additional human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) for 2009, bringing the state’s total to four. The new cases are in Marion and Harrison counties. The agency also reports one case of St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE) in ForrestCounty. The MSDH reports both confirmed and probable cases to the public.

The Mississippi Board of Animal Health reports one case of WNV in a horse in Harrison County. WNV can be transmitted to humans and horses by mosquitoes that have bitten an infected bird.

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Last week the agency confirmed the state’s first WNV cases in Harrison and Hinds counties.

The MSDH conducts statewide mosquito testing with its most intensive surveillance during the peak WNV mosquito reproduction months of July, August and September. To date, two mosquito samples have tested positive for WNV – one each in Harrison and Jackson counties. It is important to remember that mosquito-borne diseases, including WNV, occur statewide and throughout the year.

The MSDH encourages Mississippians to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of contracting WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses: remove sources of standing water, avoid mosquito-prone areas, especially between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active; wear protective clothing (such as long-sleeved shirts and pants) when in mosquito-prone areas; and apply a DEET-based mosquito repellent according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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.

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