New cases of West Nile virus reported in Forrest, Lamar counties

New cases of West Nile virus reported in Forrest, Lamar counties
A total of five cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Mississippi since mid-July. (Source: WDAM)

PINE BELT (WDAM) - Two cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Forrest and Lamar counties, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.

A total of five cases have been reported in Mississippi since mid-July. The previous three cases were reported in Smith, Hinds and Copiah counties.

"While most Mississippians are aware of the existence of West Nile virus, it’s easy to forget how dangerous it can be. We need to remember that we have WNV cases in Mississippi every year, and that everyone needs to act now to reduce their risk of infection regardless of where they live in the state. Most cases occur from July through September," said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. "While most infected people recover without any long-term problems, some develop a more severe infection that can lead to complications and even death, especially in those over 50 years of age."

Symptoms of the virus include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, a rash, muscle weakness and swollen lymph nodes. According to state health officials, severe cases can lead to encephalitis or meningitis, which have the possibility to be fatal.

There were 50 West Nile cases reported in the State of Mississippi in 2018 with no deaths.

Here are some tips you can follow from MSDH to help protect yourself against West Nile and other mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • Use a mosquito repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient such as 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.

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