JACKSON — Today the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports the state’s first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) for 2013. The reported case is in Madison County. The MSDH only reports laboratory-confirmed cases to the public. In 2012, Mississippi had 247 WNV cases and five deaths.
“This is actually not the first time we have had cases reported this early in Mississippi. We have had cases in March before and as early as January in previous years. This serves as a reminder that WNV can occur year-round, even if we are not in the peak summer months of July, August, and September,” said MSDH Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “Also, the timeframe of when the first case is reported has no effect on the type of WNV activity we’ll see in a particular season. The first cases of the 2012 were reported in June, and we went on to set a record for the highest number of human cases in one season.”
Mississippians should take appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of contracting WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses year-round: remove sources of standing water, especially after rainfall; if you will be in mosquito-prone areas, wear protective clothing (such as long-sleeved shirts and pants) during peak times from dusk until dawn; and use a recommended mosquito repellent according to manufacturer’s directions.
Symptoms of WNV 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.
For more information on WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses, a checklist to reduce the mosquito population in and around homes, and recommended mosquito repellents, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com/westnile or call the WNV toll-free hotline from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 1-877-WST-NILE (1-877-978-6453).