July 14, 2012 8:26:59 PM
Kristin Mamrack -
The state's first two human cases of West Nile virus have been reported for 2012.
Officials at the Mississippi Department of Health reported lab-confirmed cases of humans contracting the virus in Lauderdale and Hancock counties.
"We are now entering our peak West Nile Virus season, and we typically see more human cases in July, August and September, than in other months," said MSDH Acting State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. "So we encourage all residents throughout the state to take precautions to prevent infection."
To reduce the risk of contracting West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses year-round, residents are advised to remove sources of standing water, especially after rainfall. Residents in mosquito-prone areas also are advised to wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and pants, from dusk until dawn and to use a mosquito repellent.
In addition to the human cases, MSDH has identified West Nile Virus-positive mosquitoes throughout the state, during testing conducted each year.
In 2011, Mississippi had 52 West Nile Virus cases, which led to five deaths.
Symptoms of West Nile Virus infection often are mild and 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, MSDH officials warned.
For more information and a checklist on steps to reduce the mosquito population in and around homes, visit www.HealthyMS.com/westnile or call the West Nile Virus toll-free hotline from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at 1-877-978-6453.