MSDH reports 2020’s first case of West Nile Virus

As if COVID-19 wasn’t enough, the Mississippi State Department of Health has confirmed the state’s first case of West Nile Virus in 2020. The case was reported in Claiborne County.

With temperatures and humidity rising, the risk of WNV will also rise due to the prevalence of mosquitos across the state.

“This is a reminder that even though we are in the midst of ongoing transmission of COVID-19, West Nile virus has not gone away,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “We are approaching the time of year when WNV is most active in Mississippi, so it’s important to protect yourself.”

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

In 2019, Mississippi had a total of 15 WNV cases and no deaths.