Mississippi officials report first West Nile Virus death for 2011

JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Tuesday, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported the first West Nile Virus death for 2011.

The death was a Jones County resident. Three additional cases are reported in Hinds, Pearl River and Wayne counties. This brings the state human case total for this year to 13.

So far this year, cases have been reported in Coahoma, Forrest, Hinds, Jones, Marion, Pearl River (3), Tallahatchie, and Wayne counties. The MSDH only reports confirmed cases to the public.

In 2010, Mississippi had eight WNV cases and no deaths.

Mississippians are encouraged to 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; 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 a brochure on WNV, 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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