Two more Mississippians have died from West Nile Virus this year, bringing the total number of deaths in 2017 to three.

The two deaths were in residents of Humphreys and Forrest counties, reported the Department of Health on Monday. The Department of Health also reported 12 new cases of the virus, bringing the state total to 36 this year.

“This sadly serves as a reminder that the threat of West Nile virus should be taken very seriously,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said in a release last month. “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 Bolivar, Clay, Covington, Forrest, Hinds, Humphreys, Jones, Leake, Leflore, Lincoln, Lowndes, Madison, Noxubee, Perry, Rankin, Scott, and Wilkinson counties. Deaths have been reported in Forrest, Grenada and Humphreys counties.

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

Larrison Campbell

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.