West Nile virus continues to spread

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The Department of Health has reported four new cases of West Nile virus in the state, bringing the total of infected Mississippians in 2016 to 36, including a Hinds County resident who died of the virus in August. The new reported cases are in Adams, Carroll, George and Jefferson Davis counties. In 2015, the Department of Health, which only reports laboratory-confirmed cases, reported 38 cases of West Nile Virus and one death. Symptoms of the virus are usually mild and mimic the flu; many people never realize they are infected. However, less than one percent of patients develop a severe neuroinvasive disease, such as meningitis or encephalitis. West Nile Virus is transmitted by mosquito bite. The Department of Health strongly cautions residents to minimize their risk of mosquito bites by using a DEET-based repellant and wearing long sleeves when outdoors. They also advise people to remove any standing water from their yards.