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West Nile confirmed in woman’s death

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed afatality from West Nile in Lincoln County, according to statehealth officials.

A family member confirmed that Ava Adams Pickett of Brookhavenwas diagnosed with West Nile encephalitis by Dr. Braxter Irby onJuly 29 and succumbed to the illness on Aug. 4 at King’s DaughtersMedical Center.

“He said all the blood tests he did and everything he didindicated West Nile,” said Bonnie Marston of Shreveport, La. “Hewas convinced the CDC would confirm his diagnosis.”

According to Liz Sharlot, director of public relations for theMississippi Department of Health, they cannot confirm the identityof West Nile victims because of the Health Information Privacy andPortability Act.

Sharlot could only confirm the West Nile death of an elderlyfemale in Lincoln County. Pickett was 87.

Pickett, who was born in Coushatte, La., on Jan. 6, 1917, was aretired bookkeeper and homemaker. She was a charter and activemember of Jackson Street United Methodist Church of Brookhaven.

Marston said she was surprised Pickett had been infected withWest Nile because, although she went places with friends, she wasnot an outdoor person and did not work in the yard.

“She always walked straight from the door to the car,” Marstonsaid. “She even drove down to the mailbox to get her mail becauseshe had bad knees. She didn’t do any yard work. It was just achance mosquito.”

The virus is a bird disease that is transferred to people whenthey are bitten by a mosquito who has already fed on an infectedbird.

The CDC also confirmed Wednesday another West Nile death inRankin County and five other human cases, one each in Covington,Harrison, Leflore, Rankin and Simpson counties, according to thehealth department.

Another three human cases are suspected in Hinds, Holmes andWashington counties, but health officials are still awaitingconfirmation from the CDC in those cases.

Although Mississippi has reported fewer West Nile cases inhumans this year, there have already been more deaths.

This time last year, Mississippi had reported 29 human cases andonly one death, according to Dr. Mills McNeill, a epidemiologistwith the health department.

McNeill urged people to continue to take personal protectionmeasures.

“We must remain vigilant with protective measures and keepingour environments mosquito-free,” he said. “We know thatmosquito-borne illnesses are transmitted through the bite of aninfected mosquito; we know West Nile virus is here; and, mostimportantly, we know that all mosquito-borne illnesses arepreventable.”

McNeill recommended people continue to wear protective clothingand apply mosquito repellents, especially those with DEET, onexposed body parts, especially during the dusk and dawn hours whenmosquitoes are most active.

Symptoms of West Nile virus infection are often mild or flulikeand may include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, a rash, muscleweakness and swollen lymph nodes. In a small number of people,infection can result in encephalitis or meningitis, which mayresult in paralysis, coma and even death. Young children, theelderly and people with compromised immune symptoms are most atrisk of being infected with the more severe form of the virus.