Mississippi Reports Second West Nile Virus Death

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Today, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reported the second death from West Nile virus (WNV) for 2009. The deceased was a Forrest County resident. Additionally, four new human cases of WNV were reported, bringing the state’s total to 15 with two deaths. The new cases are in Forrest (3) and Lee counties. The agency also reports one additional case of St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE) in Forrest County. The MSDH reports both confirmed and probable cases to the public.

Since July 2009, WNV cases have been reported in DeSoto, Forrest (4), Harrison (2), Hinds (2), Lee, Marion, Rankin (2) and Washington (2) counties. Two cases of SLE have 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, six mosquito samples have tested positive for WNV – four in Harrison County and one each in Jackson and Washington 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.