Mississippi Reports First West Nile Virus Death

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports the first death of the 2009 West Nile virus (WNV) season related to complications from WNV infection. The deceased was a Washington County resident. In 2008, there were three deaths related to complications from WNV infection.

Additionally, the agency reports two new human cases of WNV, bringing the state’s total number of WNV cases to six. The new cases are in Washington County. The MSDH reports both confirmed and probable cases to the public.


Since July 2009, WNV cases have been reported in Hinds, Harrison (2), Marion and Washington (2) counties. One case of St. Louis Encephalitis has been reported in Forrest County. The Board of Animal Health has reported one case of WNV in a horse.

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.