Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) officials encourage all Mississippi residents to take proper precautions to protect themselves as peak West Nile virus (WNV) season approaches.
Routine surveillance conducted by MSDH officials has identified WNV positive mosquitoes in the state, indicating that the virus is now circulating in Mississippi. Each year, mosquito testing is conducted in counties throughout the state where historically higher numbers of WNV human cases have occurred.
So far this year, MSDH has identified WNV positive mosquitoes in Forrest, Pike and Lincoln counties. MSDH also performs mosquito testing in Hinds, Rankin, Madison, Harrison, Hancock, Jackson, Scott, Yazoo, Jones and LeFlore counties.
"WNV infections are reported year-round throughout our state, so it is important to remember that the identification of West Nile virus in mosquito populations doesn't necessarily mean a higher risk for human infections." said MSDH Acting State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. "However, the presence of WNV infected mosquitoes in an area can serve as a reminder that this disease is present in Mississippi and causes human infections on a yearly basis. We are now entering our peak WNV season, and we typically see more human cases in July, August and September than in other months, so we encourage all residents throughout the state to take precautions to prevent infection."
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; 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.
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Press Contact: MSDH Office of Communications, (601) 576-7667
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