Four more human cases of West Nile encephalitis have been found by Mississippi health officials and there is a possibility of six additional cases.
The state Department of Health confirmed Mississippi's first human case of the West Nile virus last week. That infected individual, an unidentified middle-aged resident of Hinds County, is recovering.
The latest cases involve two more Hinds County residents, one in Yazoo County and another in Jackson County, state health officer Ed Thompson said Friday. The individuals were not identified.
State health officials have tested 22 people for the virus. Three residents are probable victims of the virus and three are suspected of carrying West Nile, Thompson said.
"All of the human cases are cases that were identified because they had encephalitis,'' Thompson said. "That prompted their physicians to send specimens to us. We have tested some 22 individuals so far in the state for West Nile encephalitis.''
Many additional cases have also been found in Louisiana parishes bordering Mississippi, Thompson said.
West Nile virus is transmitted primarily by mosquitoes. The health department will conduct a mosquito control workshop for local officials on Aug. 2 in Jackson. Health officials are urging people to use mosquito repellent and wear longsleeves.
West Nile can cause deadly brain inflammation in humans and animals. Most West Nile encephalitis infections are mild. Symptoms include fever, headache and body aches, occasionally with skin rash and swollen lymph glands. No vaccine exists for humans.
Earlier this week the West Nile virus was found in mosquitoes in Clarksdale. The virus has previously been found in Mississippi in birds and horses.
West Nile killed two Lorikeets at the Jackson Zoo last month.
Read more on the West Nile Virus from the wlox.com archives: