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First 2020 case of West Nile virus reported in state

With summer in full force in Pearl River County, the Mississippi State Department of Health advises residents to take precautions to protect themselves against mosquitos and mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile Virus.

Mosquito season begins in the summer and lasts through the fall.

When people think of mosquito-borne illnesses, West Nile Virus usually comes to mind, but mosquitos in Mississippi can also transmit St. Louis encephalitis, Chikungunya virus and East Equine encephalitis, according to information from MSDH.

West Nile Virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the U.S. It causes flu-like symptoms in people bitten by infected mosquitos. In some cases, infection can become severe and lead to meningitis, encephalitis or death. There is no vaccine to prevent people from being infected.

The highest number of West Nile Virus deaths in the past five years in Mississippi was in 2014 when seven deaths were recorded in the state for that year.

As of July 28, there have only been two cases of West Nile Virus recorded in the state for 2020 and no deaths.

MSDH recommends that people use mosquito repellant or make sure that arms and legs are covered with clothing when spending time outdoors, avoid mosquito-prone areas and remove sources of standing water around the home, which allow mosquitos to breed.

Mosquitos are most active in the morning and evening, so this is when people should exercise the most caution.

Those diagnosed with West Nile virus are invited to join the WNV Support Group sponsored by the Mississippi Methodist Rehabilitation Center. More information about the support group can be found at methodistonline.org.

More information about West Nile virus can be found at msdh.ms.gov.