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JACKSON, Miss. – Today the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports one new human case of West Nile virus (WNV) for 2013. The reported case was in Lowndes County, bringing the state total for 2013 to three cases. The two previously reported WNV cases were in Madison and Forrest counties.

In 2012, Mississippi had a record number of human WNV cases. Last year, the state reported 247 WNV cases and five deaths. The MSDH only reports laboratory-confirmed cases to the public.

“We are now entering our high-risk WNV season, as historically we see more human cases in July, August and September than in other months,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “We encourage all residents throughout the state to take the necessary steps to prevent infection.”

Mississippians should take the following precautions to reduce the risk of contracting WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses year-round: 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.

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).

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