From staff reports
The Meridian Star
A dozen new human cases of West Nile Virus were reported in Mississippi on Monday by the Mississippi State Department of Health.
The number of new cases reported in each county are: Lauderdale (1), Coahoma (1), Forrest (1), Hancock (1), Lowndes (1), Madison (1), Pearl River (1), Rankin (3), Walthall (1), and Wayne (1).
The latest numbers bring the state total to 225 cases and five deaths. This is the highest number of West Nile Virus cases ever reported in Mississippi. In 2011, Mississippi had 52 West Nile Virus cases and five deaths. The Mississippi State Department of Health only reports laboratory-confirmed cases to the public.
Although peak season for West Nile Virus is July, August, and September in Mississippi, mosquito-borne illnesses can occur year-round.
The health department advises that Mississippians take appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of contracting West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses by doing the following:
• Remove sources of standing water, especially after rainfall.
• Install or repair screens on windows and doors.
• If you will be in mosquito-prone areas, wear protective clothing (such as long-sleeved shirts and pants) during peak times from dusk until dawn.
• Use repellents containing DEET, or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered repellents for use on human skin. Always read the manufacturer's directions carefully before you put on a repellent.
Symptoms of West Nile Virus 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, infection can result in encephalitis or meningitis, which can lead to paralysis, coma and possibly death.
For more information on West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses, a checklist to reduce the mosquito population in and around homes, and recommended mosquito repellents, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com/westnile or call the West Nile Virus toll-free hotline from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday at 1-877-WST-NILE (1-877-978-6453).