Mississippi reports 2013's 1st human case of West Nile Virus

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Spring in Mississippi means bugs and blooms, and unfortunately, West Nile Virus. Monday, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported the state's first human case of West Nile Virus for 2013. The reported case is in Madison County.

Last year, Mississippi had 247 WNV cases and five deaths. Cases usually peak in July, August, and September.

"This is actually not the first time we have had cases reported this early in Mississippi," said MSDH Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. "We have had cases in March before and as early as January in previous years."

Byers said just because we're seeing a human case of West Nile Virus early in the season doesn't necessarily mean 2013 will be a bad year.

"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."

Remember, you can reduce your risk of contracting WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses year-round by taking a few simple steps:

-Remove sources of standing water, especially after rainfall.

-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 a recommended mosquito repellent according to manufacturer's directions.

Symptoms of WNV 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.

To learn more about 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 WNV toll-free hotline from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 1-877-WST-NILE (1-877-978-6453).

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