First human case of West Nile reported in Pine Belt

First human case of West Nile reported in Pine Belt
West Nile has been reported in the Pine Belt. Photo credit WDAM.

FORREST COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The first human case of West Nile has been reported, and it was in a Pine Belt county.

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reported that the first human case of West Nile virus for the year was in Forrest County.

The MSDH only reports laboratory-confirmed cases to the public. In 2016, Mississippi had 43 WNV cases and two deaths.

"While WNV can occur any time of the year, we are approaching the time of year when most cases occur, usually from July through September. Additionally we have identified mosquitoes from many areas in the state that have tested positive for West Nile in the past month, so now is time to really take precautions to avoid mosquito bites when going outdoors," said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.

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, according to MSDH.

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.

The MSDH suggests the following precautions to protect yourself and your environment from mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • Use a recommended 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.

For more information on mosquito-borne illnesses, visit the MSDH website at HealthyMS/westnile.

Follow MSDH by e-mail and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.