The Department of Health reported one new case of West Nile Virus on Monday in a resident of Hinds County.

Last week a resident of Grenada County died of the virus, the first person to die of the virus in 2017. So far this year, 19 people in Mississippi have contracted West Nile.

“This sadly serves as a reminder that the threat of West Nile virus should be taken very seriously,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers in a release last week. “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.”

In 2017, cases have been reported in Covington, Forrest, Grenada, Hinds, Humphreys, Jones, Leflore, Lincoln, Madison, Perry, Rankin and Scott counties.

Last month 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 from the virus. 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.