Mississippi’s first West Nile case confirmed

Published 12:43 am Thursday, April 3, 2008

NATCHEZ — As the spring air turns warmer newly hatched mosquitoes take to the air with only one thing on their minds — blood.

And in that never-ending blood quest mosquitoes have already caused the first confirmed case of West Nile virus in Mississippi.

The first case, in Lincoln County, was confirmed this week by the Mississippi State Department of Health.

Email newsletter signup

The Lincoln County case is just the second nationwide for 2008.

In 2007 there were five confirmed cases of West Nile in Adams County.

State epidemiologist Dr. Mary Currier said even thought West Nile is most prevalent during the months in mid to late summer, Mississippians should be constantly vigilant against the virus.

“People need to protect themselves,” she said.

Currier recommended using mosquito repellant, especially during early morning and evening hours when mosquitoes feed, and wearing clothing that protects the skin.

Currier said the virus is spread between birds and mosquitoes, and while people can become infected they cannot transmit the disease.

In fact, Currier said only 20 percent of people who become infected with the virus will show any symptoms at all.

Up to 80 percent of people carrying the virus will show no symptoms and likely don’t know they have West Nile, Currier said.

Symptoms of the disease can include mild fever, headaches and muscle weakness.

Severe cases of West Nile can lead to encephalitis or meningitis.

In the vein of prevention and precaution crewmen on the Adams County Road Department work crew have already started spraying ditches and other still water sources to kill un-hatched mosquitoes.

Road crew secretary Sylvia Bunch said while the road crew will be working to kill off mosquitoes residents can actually go a long way in helping themselves in West Nile prevention.

Bunch recommended emptying any container that can hold stagnant water.

Bunch also said the county will provide environmentally safe mosquito poison to residents with ponds or swimming pools that may harbor the insects.

Poison can be obtained from the road department by calling 601-455-7935.