TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

Mississippi health officials report first 2013 case of West Nile virus

The Mississippi State Department of Health announced on Monday that the state recorded its first laboratory-confirmed human case of West Nile virus in 2013.

The case occurred in Madison County. In 2012, the state reported 247 WNV cases in all and five deaths.

"This is actually not the first time we have had cases reported this early in Mississippi," Paul Byers, the deputy state epidemiologist for the MSDH, said. "We have had cases in March before and as early as January in previous years. This serves as a reminder that WNV can occur year-round, even if we are not in the peak summer months of July, August, and September. Also, the timeframe of when the first case is reported has no effect on the type of WNV activity we'll see in a particular season. The first cases of the 2012 were reported in June, and we went on to set a record for the highest number of human cases in one season."

The health department recommended that Mississippians take WNV precautions such as removing sources of standing water, wearing protective clothing during peak times from dusk till dawn and using a recommended mosquito repellent.

WNV symptoms are typically mild and may include rash, vomiting, nausea, headache, fever, muscle weakness, rash and swollen lymph nodes. In a small number of cases, infection may result in meningitis or encephalitis, leading to paralysis, coma and death.