West Nile Virus now in Hinds, Leflore counties

The Department of Health added Hinds and Leflore to the list of counties reporting human cases of West Nile Virus on Thursday, bringing the state total to five for 2017. Previously, the Department of Health had reported two human cases in Forrest County and one in Rankin County. The Department of Health also has confirmed that mosquitoes tested positive for the disease in eight counties, six of which have not had a confirmed human case: Clay, Hinds, Forrest, 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 a release earlier this month, the Department of Health said that an increase in cases means that Mississippians are entering “peak season” for the disease, which is spread by mosquitoes that are more prevalent in the warmer summer months.

Second West Nile Virus case confirmed in Forrest County

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported its third human case of West Nile Virus for 2017 on Monday. The most recent diagnosis was made in a Forrest County resident, the second human diagnosis in that county this year. Earlier this month, the Department of Health reported another case of West Nile Virus in a Rankin County resident. The Department of Health also has confirmed that mosquitoes tested positive for the disease in eight counties, six of which have not had a confirmed human case: Clay, Hinds, Forrest, 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.

Clinton physician elected board chairman for Department of Health

The Board of the Department of Health elected a new chairman Thursday, replacing Dr. Luke Lampton, who had his license suspended in May. Dr. Ed Dalton Barham of Clinton will chair the board, where he has served since 2012. Dr. Thad Waites, a Hattiesburg physician and board member since 2010, was also elected vice chairman. “It has been a great privilege for me to be a member of the State Board of Health,” said Barham. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in a leadership position, and look forward to working with my colleagues to help promote public health in Mississippi.” Lampton had served as chairman since 2007.

West Nile cases confirmed in two counties; mosquitoes carry virus in five more

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported its second human case of West Nile Virus for 2017 on Wednesday. The most recent diagnosis was made in a Rankin County resident. Last month, the Department of Health reported Mississippi’s first case of West Nile Virus in a Forrest County resident. The Department of Health said that the increase in cases means that Mississippians are entering “peak season” for the disease, which is spread by mosquito and more prevalent in the warmer summer months. “While WNV (West Nile Virus) can occur any time of the year, we are now in peak season when most cases occur.

Sen. Wicker wants to expand rural telehealth services

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker helped introduced a bill this week with the goal of expanding access to rural telehealth services. The Reaching Underserved Rural Areas to Lead on Telehealth Act, which Wicker co-sponsored with U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, would remove some limits on reimbursements for large non-rural hospitals under the Federal Communications Commission’s Healthcare Connect Fund. “Telehealth services are critical to increasing rural Americans’ access to quality care,” Wicker said. “Mississippi is leading the nation in developing telehealth technology. Our health-care providers have demonstrated that targeted investments in telehealth can increase access to life-saving services and drive down costs.”

If passed, the legislation would allow non-rural hospitals in a telehealth consortium to qualify for the 65 percent health-care provider broadband connectivity discount under the Healthcare Connect Fund—as long as a majority of the hospitals in that group serve patients in rural areas.