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State's First West Nile Death Reported

Posted by Steve Rogers | July 27, 2012 / 04:10pm | Local News, Health
JACKSON, Miss.-- Today the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports the first West Nile virus death for 2012, along with eight new human cases. The death was in Smith County, and the new reported cases are in Leflore, Rankin (3), Smith, Stone (2), and Sunflower County. Today's report brings the state total for 2012 to 19 cases and one death.

So far this year, cases have been reported in Coahoma, Covington, Forrest, Hancock, Hinds, Lauderdale, Lamar, Leflore , Lincoln, Marion, Rankin (3), Smith, Stone (2), Sunflower, Wayne, and Yazoo counties. The MSDH only reports laboratory-confirmed cases to the public.

In 2011, Mississippi had 52 WNV cases and five deaths.

"It's important to remember that we're in the peak West Nile months of July, August and September," said MSDH Acting State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. "This is when we can expect to see the bulk of our cases throughout the state. It is important to be especially mindful of taking proper precautions now, but West Nile virus can be contracted year-round."

Mississippians should take appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of contracting WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses: remove sources of standing water, especially after rainfall; and 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.

The Mississippi Board of Animal Health (MBAH) monitors WNV infection in horses. Infections in horses are not transmitted to people, but positive horses can be an indication that the virus is circulating in the area. To date, the MBAH is reporting WNV positive horses in Rankin and Pearl River counties. For more information about WNV and other mosquito-borne infections in horses, please see the MBAH website at or the MBAH Facebook site at

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 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).
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