For up-to-date information on West Nile and other mosquito-borne viruses see our Mosquito-Borne Illnesses pages or call the West Nile virus toll-free hotline at 1-877-WST-NILE from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Today the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports two new human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) for 2008, bringing the state's total number of WNV cases to seven. The new cases are in Hinds and Jones Counties. The agency also reports one case of LaCrosse encephalitis (LAC) in Yazoo County. The MSDH reports both confirmed and probable cases to the public.
Since March 2008, WNV cases have been reported in Hinds, Lincoln, Forrest, Jones (2) and Madison (2) counties.
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.
LAC virus cases are occasionally reported in Mississippi, with the most recent case being reported in 2005. The illness is generally mild with less than one percent mortality. Infants and children infected with LAC usually have more severe symptoms than adults. People infected with LAC often have no symptoms, but some may experience fever, headache, vomiting, lethargy and sometimes seizures.
The LAC virus circulates among small rodents, such as squirrels and chipmunks, by way of mosquito bites. The primary mosquito vector of LAC is the Tree Hole mosquito, Ochlerotatus triseriatus, which breeds around homes in tree holes, old cans, tires and other artificial containers.
The MSDH conducts statewide mosquito testing with its most intensive surveillance during peak mosquito reproduction time, which is usually July, August and September.
MSDH encourages Mississippians to take the following simple precautions to reduce their risk of contracting West Nile virus, LaCrosse encephalitis, and other mosquito-borne illnesses:
- Remove sources of standing water
- Avoid mosquito-prone areas, especially between dusk and dawn when mosquito activity is highest
- Wear protective clothing (such as long-sleeved shirts and pants) when in mosquito-prone areas
- Apply a mosquito repellent according to the manufacturer's instructions
To protect your your home:
- Drain or dump any source of standing water around the home
- Dispose of containers and debris which can collect or hold water
- Remove all leaf debris
- Dispose of used tires
- Clean rain gutters and swimming pools
- Change the water in bird baths weekly
- Use over-the-counter larvaciding products that can be purchased at home improvement stores
- Eliminate pools of standing, stagnant water, especially with organic debris
- Repair damaged or torn window and door screens that stay open
- Regularly clean outdoor pet food and water dishes; remove any not being used
- Close garbage can lids and be sure water does not collect in the bottom of the cans
- Check around construction sites to ensure that proper backfilling and grading prevent drainage problems
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Press Contact: Liz Sharlot, Carol Jones or Elizabeth Grey, (601) 576-7667.