Virus death toll rises to 3 in Mississippi

Two more West Nile virus deaths have been reported in Mississippi, bringing the state's total for the year to three.

The state Department of Health, which keeps track of the mosquito-borne virus, also is reporting 17 new human cases.

The latest deaths occurred in Rankin and Lamar counties. The names were not released.

The new cases - pushing the state total for the year to 76 - were reported in Harrison, Hinds, Jackson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Madison (6), Neshoba, Oktibbeha, Pearl River, Rankin (2) and Yazoo counties. The department releases information about confirmed and probable cases.

"Although we've had some cooler days, it is still peak West Nile virus season. Mosquitoes are still biting and transmitting the virus to humans," said Dr. Ed Thompson, interim state health officer. "I encourage all Mississippians to continue taking precautions to avoid this disease."

Symptoms of 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, West Nile virus infection can result in encephalitis or meningitis, which can lead to paralysis, coma and possibly death.

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