West Nile virus deaths

Published 7:00 am Thursday, September 25, 2014

This week the Mississippi State Department of Health confirmed the West Nile virus deaths of two Mississippians.

The deaths occurred in Lee and Coahoma counties.

The MSDH also reported that there are 12 new human cases of West Nile virus in the state. There have been 37 cases and five deaths this year.

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The 12 new cases were reported in Adams, Carroll, Coahoma, Clarke, Forrest, Hinds, Jones, Lee, Monroe and Washington counties.

According to the Centers for Disease Control website, West Nile virus is most commonly spread by infected mosquitoes. The virus can cause inflammation of the brain or meningitis, in severe instances.

The majority of infected people do not exhibit any symptoms, the website states. Some may experience fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash.

According to the CDC, there are no medications to treat or prevent West Nile virus, however over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to reduce fever and relieve some symptoms. In severe cases, the infected person may require hospitalization.

The MSDH recommends the following precautions to prevent West Nile virus:

  • The use of mosquito repellents that contain DEET.
  • Removal of standing water within containers around the home.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors.

“This is the time of the year when our case numbers rise, given that peak season in Mississippi is July, August and September. It’s a good reminder that WNV is throughout the state, and all Mississippians should remain vigilant, even with cooler weather,” MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs said in a press release.

The MSDH also confirmed one human case of St. Louis Encephalitis virus in Coahoma County.

According to the CDC, SLEV is also a mosquito-borne illness. Most infected people exhibit no symptoms or mild flu-like symptoms. In the elderly SLEV can cause serious illness that affects the central nervous system.

Symptoms include fever, headache, stiff neck, disorientation and an altered level consciousness. Coma, convulsions and paralysis may also occur, the CDC website states.

According to the CDC there is no specific treatment for SLEV. In severe cases, infected people are treated through hospitalization, respiratory support and IV fluids.

To learn more about mosquito-borne illnesses visit the MSDH website at www.healthyMS.com and the CDC at www.cdc.gov.