State health officials said Tuesday that the year's first human case of West Nile virus in Mississippi had been confirmed.
The Mississippi State Department of Health released a statement saying a Jackson County resident had contracted the mosquito-borne virus. Eight human West Nile cases had been reported in Mississippi by this time last year.
In 2002, there were 193 human cases of West Nile virus in Mississippi and 12 deaths. There have been 10 reported cases of West Nile this year in neighboring Louisiana. In Alabama, an elderly woman recently died from the virus. Alabama has had a total of six human cases so far.
Earlier Tuesday, Mississippi health officials announced that a second human case of St. Louis encephalitis, which is similar to West Nile, had been confirmed in the state. The encephalitis case was diagnosed in a Forrest County resident. The St. Louis virus has symptoms ranging from slight fever and headaches to disorientation, coma and tremors.
The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta confirmed the first case in Hinds County last month. Health officials urge Mississippians to "Fight the Bite'' by wearing insect repellant with DEET and long sleeves and pants. Residents should also remove standing water around their homes and place screens on windows and doors.