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West Nile is back — protect yourself

West Nile virus is officially here in Mississippi.

The Mississippi State Department of Health on Thursday reported its first human case of the virus in 2018. The reported case is in Hinds County.

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

“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, 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, light-colored, long clothing to cover the arms and legs when outdoors.

• Avoid areas where mosquitoes are prevalent.

It’s no secret that mosquitoes are dangerous. Take the time to protect yourself and your loved ones by following the tips above.