Health officials from the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) recently confirmed that there have been four new cases of the West Nile virus in the state, bringing the number of cases to seven for the year.
The new cases were in Forrest, Covington, Rankin and Hinds counties. Other cases have been found in Hinds, Adams and Simpson counties.
In 2014, the state had 43 West Nile virus cases and seven deaths related to West Nile virus.
West Nile virus symptoms include a fever, nausea, headache, rash, vomiting, swollen lymph nodes and muscle weakness. The symptoms are usually mild, but some cases develop into meningitis or encephalitis, which can cause coma, paralysis and -- in some cases -- death.
State Epidemiologist Thomas Dobbs has reminded residents that they must remain on guard against mosquito bites, as the virus is transmitted through the bites of mosquitoes infected with the virus. A large percentage of West Nile virus cases each year are confirmed in August and September.
There are proactive measures that people can take to protect themselves against mosquitoes and their illnesses, including removing standing water around homes and yards to prevent mosquitoes from breeding; using a DEET mosquito repellent; wearing light-colored, loose, long clothing that covers the legs and arms; and avoiding being outside during times of day, like dusk and dawn, when mosquito activity increases.