Jackson, Miss. The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports one new human case of West Nile virus (WNV), bringing the 2016 state total to four. The reported case is in Rankin County. None have been reported in Copiah County in 2016.
So far this year cases have been reported in Hinds, Grenada, Lamar, and Rankin counties. The MSDH only reports laboratory-confirmed cases to the public. In 2015, Mississippi had 38 WNV cases and one death.
Also today, the MSDH reports two new cases of Zika virus in Mississippi residents who recently traveled to the Carribbean and Central America. One case from DeSoto County had traveled to Jamaica and one case from Madison County had traveled to Guatemala. Three other travel-related case occurred earlier this year.
“The most important thing to remember is that West Nile virus is in Mississippi and continues to be a major health threat,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “We are now in peak West Nile season, and we advise all Mississippians to continue to take precautions to prevent infection as we move through the late months.”
In previous years, WNV has been reported from all parts of the state. All Mississippians are potentially at risk – not just the areas where cases are reported.
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.
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that may cause serious birth defects if contracted during pregnancy. Zika virus infection can cause a mild illness with symptoms (fever, joint pain, conjunctivitis or rash) lasting for several days to a week, but 80 percent have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Death is very rare. The MSDH strongly advises pregnant women not to travel to countries where Zika is actively being transmitted.
Zika has been seen in parts of Africa, Southeast Asia, and some Pacific islands for years, but has recently been reported in approximately 30 countries, mostly in the Caribbean, Central, and South America. The breed of mosquito that is spreading Zika – Aedes aegypti – has not been detected in Mississippi since the early 1990’s. The MSDH is currently conducting surveillance for Aedes mosquito populations for every county in the state.
The MSDH suggests the following precautions to protect yourself and your environment from mosquito-borne illnesses:
- Use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent that contains DEET while you are outdoors.
- Remove all sources of standing water around your home and yard to prevent mosquito breeding.
- Wear loose, light-colored, long clothing to cover the arms and legs when outdoors.
- Avoid areas where mosquitoes are prevalent.