More West Nile in MS, but none so far in county

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported four new human cases of the West Nile virus on Tuesday, bringing the total number of WNV cases in 2015 to 22. Stephanie Lopez, director of clinical outcomes at Highland Community Hospital, said that while the hospital hasn’t treated a WNV case in several years, they recommend people continue to use preventative measures to protect themselves from the mosquito-borne illness.

“Since June through September is the worst for getting the virus, people can prevent it by using repellent, wearing long-sleeved clothing and making sure they don’t have any standing water around their house,” Lopez said.

She added that mosquitos are attracted to standing water, which they use for breeding purposes.

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In the past four years, the hospital has treated three patients for WNV, one of which was severe but not fatal. Currently, there’s no specific medication used to treat the mosquito-borne illness. In the past, Lopez said the hospital used supportive care to treat patients with WNV. Symptoms include fever, headache, nausea, a rash, vomiting, swollen lymph nodes or muscle weakness.

Though the chances are small, WNV infections could result in meningitis or encephalitis, which can lead to coma, paralysis and possibly death, according to a press release from the MSDH.

So far, there’s been one reported WNV-related death in Attala County. This year, cases have been reported in Adams, Attala, Covington, Forrest, Hinds, Madison, Montgomery, Rankin, Simpson and Yazoo counties.

While the year isn’t over yet, there are currently fewer WNV cases in Mississippi this year compared to last year. In 2014, the MSDH reported 43 WNV cases and seven deaths resulting from people contracting the mosquito-borne virus, the press release states.

For more information about mosquito-related illnesses, visit