Mississippi Reports Eight New West Nile Virus Cases

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Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports eight new human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) for 2008, bringing the state's total number of WNV cases to 42 with one death. The new cases are in Hinds (2), Jones (2), Lamar, Leake, Neshoba and Scott counties. The MSDH reports both confirmed and probable cases to the public.

Since March 2008, WNV cases have been reported in Clarke, Forrest (3), Harrison, Hinds (5), Jasper, Jones (7), Lamar (2), Lawrence, Leake (2), Lincoln, Madison (4), Marion (2), Monroe (2), Neshoba (5), Pearl River, Rankin, Scott (2) and Washington counties. Four cases of LaCrosse Encephalitis (LAC) have been reported in Adams, Amite, Hinds and Yazoo counties. Five cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in horses have been reported.

The MSDH conducts statewide mosquito testing with its most intensive surveillance during the peak WNV mosquito reproduction months of July, August and September. It is important to remember that mosquito-borne diseases, including WNV, occur statewide and throughout the year.

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.

MSDH encourages Mississippians to take the following simple precautions to reduce their risk of contracting West Nile virus, LaCrosse encephalitis, and other mosquito-borne illnesses:

* Remove sources of standing water

* Avoid mosquito-prone areas, especially between dusk and dawn when mosquito activity is highest

* Wear protective clothing (such as long-sleeved shirts and pants) when in mosquito-prone areas

* Apply a mosquito repellent according to the manufacturer's instructions

To protect your your home:

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* Drain or dump any source of standing water around the home

* Dispose of containers and debris which can collect or hold water

* Remove all leaf debris

* Dispose of used tires

* Clean rain gutters and swimming pools

* Change the water in bird baths weekly

* Use over-the-counter larvaciding products that can be purchased at home improvement stores

* Eliminate pools of standing, stagnant water, especially with organic debris

* Repair damaged or torn window and door screens that stay open

* Regularly clean outdoor pet food and water dishes; remove any not being used

* Close garbage can lids and be sure water does not collect in the bottom of the cans

* Check around construction sites to ensure that proper backfilling and grading prevent drainage problems

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