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Three cases of West Nile reported in Mississippi

Though no cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in northern Mississippi, students should exercise caution.
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West Nile Virus has not disappeared in the South, despite the low number of reported cases.
The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reported three human cases of the West Nile Virus (WNV) this past week. The report was last updated July 3, and three different counties have been affected this year: Hancock, Lauderdale and Lincoln. Mosquitoes in Forrest, Lincoln, Rankin and Pike county tested positive for the virus as well.
Director of University Health Services Barbara Collier said no students at the University of Mississippi have come to the health center with WNV. At this point, Lafayette County has not had any reported cases.
Collier said the majority of these cases happen in the central or southern part of the state. No northern counties reported any cases of the virus this year. There were 52 reported cases last year, however, five of which resulted in death.
District Health Officer Dr. Roma Taylor advises Mississippians to avoid mosquitoes entirely if possible.
“They carry a lot of diseases," Taylor said. "(WNV) is prevalent this time of year."
Taylor suggests people carry insect repellent that contains DEET. She also said make sure to remove items that will collect standing water because it is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Used or discarded tires have become a popular breeding ground, too, and strong perfumes can occasionally attract them.
Taylor said to be careful around dawn and dusk because those are the times of day mosquitoes are most prevalent. When possible, wear long sleeve shirts and pants.
“The best prevention is preventative action,” Taylor said.
Symptoms of WNV can easily go unnoticed because they can be mild. These include generalized aching, rash, headaches, nausea, vomiting and eye pain. In severe cases, the virus can cause encephalitis or meningitis which can result in death.
Symptoms typically last three to six days, but information provided on the MSDH website stated only one out of 150 cases result in severe infection. The chances of becoming ill from WNV are small, especially for healthy children and adults. Those above the age of 50 are at the highest risk.
For more information on WNV and prevention, visit healthyms.com.