A resident of Grenada County has died of West Nile Virus, according to the Department of Health, the first person to die of the virus in 2017.
The Department of Health also confirmed nine new cases of the virus this week, bringing the total number of humans diagnosed with the virus to 19 for the year.
“This sadly serves as a reminder that the threat of West Nile virus should be taken very seriously,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “While many people may be infected with West Nile and not show symptoms, in a small number of cases, the infection can cause very serious complications, even death.”
So far this year cases have been reported in Covington, Forrest, Grenada, Hinds, Humphreys, Jones, Leflore, Lincoln, Madison, Perry, Rankin and Scott Counties.
Last week the Department of Health confirmed that mosquitoes tested positive for the disease in nine counties: Clay, Forrest, Hinds, Lincoln, Lowndes, Madison, Rankin and Washington. Of the 93 mosquitoes that have tested positive in the state, 33 were in Forrest County and 22 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.