Health officials say Miss. West Nile cases now 165

Published 11:31 pm Saturday, October 21, 2006

Mississippi’s West Nile cases for the year reached 165 this week after six additional human cases of the virus were reported, the state Department of Health said Friday.

The latest reported human cases of the mosquito-transmitted disease included two in Forrest County and one each in Jones, Lauderdale, Walthall and Wayne counties.

The department said there had been a new death blamed on the West Nile virus — in DeSoto County — bringing the state’s total number of human deaths to eight. This time last year, Mississippi health officials reported 70 human cases of the virus with six deaths.

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State Health Officer Dr. Brian Amy said in a department statement that while Mississippi is out of the traditional West Nile peak season, residents should still practice protective measures to avoid mosquito bites.

He said approximately 80 percent of people who are infected with the virus will have no symptoms. The remaining 20 percent may experience a range of flu-like symptoms.

These symptoms are often mild or flu-like and may include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, a rash, muscle weakness or swollen lymph nodes. In a small number of people, infection can result in encephalitis or meningitis, which can lead to paralysis, coma and possibly death.