First case of West Nile Virus reported for 2018

The Mississippi State Department of Health has confirmed that the first case of West Nile Virus in Mississippi for 2018 has been diagnosed. 

According to the MSDH, the reported case is in Hinds County, but no more information can be given due to federal privacy requirements. 

“This first case of 2018 is a reminder that each year we have WNV cases in Mississippi and that all Mississippians need to act now to reduce their risk of infection regardless of where they live in the state. Most cases occur from July through September,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “While most infected people recover without any long-term problems, some develop a more severe infection that can lead to complications and even death – especially in 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, infections can result in encephalitis or meningitis, which can lead to paralysis, coma and possibly death.

According to the CDC, Most people (8 out of 10) infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms, but when symptoms do occur they can be severe. Dr. Arthur Leis, neuromuscular neurologist at Methodist Rehab Center, says that this is why it is important for doctors to continue to push for testing of West Nile Virus.

“The misconception is that it doesn’t matter. It does matter because [doctors] aren’t checking for West Nile Virus in the spinal fluid or the blood in patients like Paul who came in with meningitis-like symptoms. 2/3 of people are not checked for the virus even in the midst of an epidemic,” Leis said.

Related: West Nile Virus persists in Mississippi

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 loose, light-colored, long clothing to cover the arms and legs when outdoors.
  • Avoid areas where mosquitoes are prevalent.

In 2017, Mississippi had 63 WNV cases and two deaths. The first case was reported in late June.