Third West Nile death confirmed in Mississippi

FORREST COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The Mississippi State Department of Health confirmed the state's third West Nile death on Wednesday. The deceased was a resident of Forrest County.

This brings the year's total to eighteen West Nile virus cases and three deaths. There were 45 cases and five deaths last year, putting things on track for similar statistics by the end of 2014.

"We routinely find mosquitos that are positive for West Nile in Forrest County," said Thomas Dobbs, State Epidemiologist with the Department of Health. "So it's very important for people to take all the precautions they can to avoid mosquito bites.

Avoiding mosquito bites is the way you avoid getting West Nile virus." Symptoms include body aches, muscle aches, headaches, and occasionally a rash. One percent of those infected develop severe symptoms include encephalitis, swelling of the brain, and meningitis, swelling of the spinal cord.

If you suspect you may be infected, see a doctor immediately. Treatment includes pain relief and fluids. "Be careful around dawn and dusk. These mosquitoes are morning and evening biters, so those are the times to be most careful," said Dobbs.

Aside from wearing an approved mosquito repellent containing DEET, make sure that there are no areas in your yard that are conducive to mosquito breeding.

When heavy rains are followed by a long period of hot weather, standing water becomes the ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.

For more information from the Mississippi Department of Health, click here.