Mississippi confirms first West Nile virus-related death

Mississippi health officials confirmed on Tuesday that a resident of Yazoo County has died from the West Nile virus-the first human death this year resulting from the virus-and another case has been confirmed in Wilkinson County.

According to the Mississippi Department of Health, so far in 2014, including in Yazoo and Wilkinson counties, seven West Nile virus cases have been reported in Adams, Hinds, Newton, Rankin counties. Last year, the virus infected 45 people and caused five deaths in the state.

Officials in the state also reported a new case of chikungunya virus in a resident who recently returned from the Dominican Republic, marking the sixth case reported in Mississippi.

Chikungunya, a threat that experts warn has the potential to spread to the U.S., has been reported in 42 states this year. Most cases are related to travel to affected areas in the Caribbean, South America and Pacific Islands, though locally transmitted cases have been reported in Florida, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Health officials have urged residents to use mosquito repellent containing DEET while outdoors and to remove sources of standing water to prevent mosquito breeding. Residents are advised to wear light-colored long clothing to protect against bites and to avoid areas where mosquitoes are prevalent.