The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports two new human cases of West Nile virus (WNV), bringing the state’s total to 40 so far for 2018. The reported cases are in Harrison (2) County.
So far this year human cases have been reported in Adams (2), Attala, Calhoun (2), Copiah, Forrest (2), Harrison (4), Hinds (15), Itawamba, Jones, Lauderdale, Madison (2), Marion, Oktibbeha, Pearl River, Rankin (2), Walthall and Washington (2) counties. In 2017, Mississippi had 63 WNV cases and two deaths.
“While peak West Nile season in Mississippi typically ends in September, we’re still seeing activity statewide, so it’s important for all Mississippians to take precautions, regardless of reports of human cases in specific counties,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.
Byers said that while most people with WNV recover without any long-term problems, some develop a more severe infection that can lead to complications and even death — especially those over 50 years of age.
Symptoms of WNV 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 MSDH suggests the following precautions to protect yourself and your family from mosquito-borne illnesses:
- Use a mosquito repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient such as DEET while you are outdoors.
- Remove all sources of standing water around your home and yard to prevent mosquito breeding.
- Wear long, loose clothing to cover the arms and legs when outdoors.
- Avoid areas where mosquitoes are prevalent.
Additionally, pediatric flu shots are now available at all Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) county clinics. Seasonal flu vaccination is recommended for anyone aged six months and older as a way to prevent the spread of flu, and more importantly, save lives.
“Last year an estimated 80,000 adults nationwide died from the flu, with 183 influenza deaths in children – three of which were in Mississippi,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “We know that nationally, 80 percent of the pediatric deaths were in children who were not vaccinated against the flu. Flu vaccine is the best way to protect both children and adults from serious complications such as hospitalization, and in many cases, death.”
Only those adults who are underinsured or uninsured and who meet certain high-risk criteria qualify for an adult flu vaccine at MSDH county health department clinics. Flu shots for insured adults are now widely available through private physicians, pharmacies, and retail centers.
Those 18 and under who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program can receive flu vaccination for $10. Insurance, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is accepted for children’s flu shots.
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle and body aches and fatigue. Most people recover from the flu without complications, but nationwide there are up to 200,000 hospitalizations from flu each year.
While vaccination is the best protection, basic infection control measures can also reduce the spread of flu and should be taken whether or not individuals are vaccinated. These measures include covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, staying at home when you or your children are sick, and washing your hands frequently.
For more information on mosquito-borne illnesses, visit the MSDH website at HealthyMS.com/westnile.
Follow MSDH by email and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.