State’s 9th case of West Nile Virus found in county

Published 6:58 pm Thursday, July 17, 2008

The ninth case of human West Nile Virus for the state of Mississippi was confirmed on Friday, July 11, in Pearl River County. This is the first confirmed case for Pearl River County for this year.

A press release issued by the Mississippi Department of Health on Monday stated, “Since March of 2008, WNV cases have been reported in Hinds, Lincoln, Forrest, Jones (3), Madison (2) and Pearl River counties.”

While the statewide confirmed numbers for this year, nine, are reportedly lower than those at this same time last year, 17, the health department warns that the most important thing to remember is that residents must protect themselves against this mosquito-borne virus, especially during the peak season, which is now through September.

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Liz Sharlot, director of Communications at the state health department, says it is not the number of confirmed cases with which residents should concern themselves, since a number of people may actually have the virus and not be exhibiting any signs or symptoms. While the numbers are down from last year at this time, this year could actually end up being a more active season.

“(Residents) roles are to protect themselves and their family,” said Sharlot.

The health department suggests avoiding mosquito prone areas at their most active time of day, which is dusk until dawn, or wearing protective clothing such as pants and long sleeves if this situation cannot be avoided. Removing standing water from around the home removes potential mosquito breeding grounds, she said.

Repellents containing DEET are most important at this time of year. Carefully follow the directions provided on these products, Sharlot said.

Sharlot said parents should remember that some repellents can and should be used to protect children. A list of recommended repellents can be found on the health department’s website,

West Nile Virus is one of five mosquito-borne viruses commonly reported in Mississippi. The state health department’s press release provides a list of signs and symptoms. Symptoms of West Nile 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, the health department warns.

To learn more, visit the health department’s website, or call the toll-free hotline from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, at 1-877-WST-Nile (1-877-978-6453).