West Nile confirmed in VidaliaPublished 12:06am Saturday, July 28, 2012
VIDALIA — The area has seen its first confirmed case of West Nile Virus for the year with the diagnosis of a Vidalia resident.
The resident — who asked not to be identified but stated she wanted the public to know the disease was present in the region — said she received a letter from an area blood service telling her she had tested positive for the virus after giving blood at a recent blood drive.
In a small number of cases, West Nile Virus infections can lead to encephalitis or meningitis, which could result in paralysis, coma or death.
Thursday, Mississippi reported the first West Nile-related death of the year in Smith County. The Mississippi State Department of Health reports that the state has 19 other laboratory-confirmed cases in Coahoma, Covington, Forrest, Hancock, Hinds, Lauderdale, Lamar, Leflore, Lincoln, Marion, Rankin, Smith, Stone, Sunflower, Wayne and Yazoo counties.
According to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Louisiana has 32 other confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in Caddo, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Ouachita, Rapides and St. Tammany parishes. Nineteen of those cases were reported in the last week.
“This week we have seen a substantial increase in the number of neuroinvasive disease cases,” said Dr. Ratard, LDHH State Epidemiologist. “This serves as a reminder that we should not be complacent, we should be on guard and take all the necessary precautions and measures to protect ourselves and our loved ones from being bitten by mosquitoes.”
It is important to remember that that the peak months for West Nile Virus are June, July and August, MSDH Acting State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said.
“This is when we can expect to see the bulk of our cases throughout the state,” Byers said. “It is important to be especially mindful of taking proper precautions now, but West Nile virus can be contracted year-round.”
According to the MSDH, symptoms of the infection may be mild, and include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, rash, muscle weakness or swollen lymph nodes.
West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne disease, and the MSDH recommends that residents remove standing water if possible, especially following rainfall, wear protective clothing during peak mosquito activity — from dusk until dawn — and use mosquito repellent to reduce the chances of contracting the virus.
The Mississippi Board of Animal Health has also reported cases of horses in Rankin and Pearl River counties testing positive for West Nile Virus.