The Department of Health announced five new cases of West Nile Virus in state residents Monday, bringing the state total to 10 for 2017.

So far this year cases have been reported in Covington, Forrest, Hinds, Humphreys, Leflore, Perry and Rankin counties.

“We are now in peak season for West Nile virus in Mississippi, and even if there has not been a reported human case in your county, our surveillance has shown that mosquitoes that carry the virus are active in all parts of the state,” said MSDH state epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.

Last week the Department of Health confirmed that mosquitoes tested positive for the disease in eight counties, five of which have not had a confirmed human case: Clay, Forrest, Hinds, Lincoln, Lowndes, Madison, Rankin and Washington. Of the 73 mosquitoes that have tested positive in the state, 28 were in Forrest County and 16 were in Washington County.

In previous years, West Nile Virus has been reported from all parts of the state, and the Department of Health stressed that all Mississippians are potentially at risk — not just those who live in the areas where cases are reported.

In 2016, Mississippi had 43 West Nile Virus cases and two deaths. The Department of Health reports only laboratory-confirmed cases to the public.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus 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.

The Department of Health suggests the following precautions to protect from mosquito-borne illnesses: using a recommended mosquito repellent containing DEET while outside, removing all standing water from property, wearing loose, light-colored clothing that covers arms and legs and avoiding areas where mosquitoes are common.


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Larrison Campbell is a Greenville native who reports on politics with an emphasis on public health. She received a bachelor’s from Wesleyan University and a master’s from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.Larrison is a 2018 National Press Foundation fellow in public health, a 2019 Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts fellow in health care reporting and a 2019 Center for Health Journalism National Fellow.