MSDH: New West Nile Virus case in Oktibbeha County

Published 5:48 pm Wednesday, June 15, 2022

The Mississippi State Department of Health disclosed June 10 that a new human case of West Nile virus (WNV) had been confirmed in an Oktibbeha County resident.

Mississippi’s first and second 2022 cases of West Nile Virus had been reported in two Hinds County residents, one in January and the other in February.

Mosquitoes transmit the virus to humans, with a peak season during July through October, when mosquitoes are most active. However, the virus can be transmitted any time of the year.

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Symptoms are typically mild. The elderly seem to be the most at risk for the more severe and long-lasting cases.

The virus’s symptoms include those much like the flu, and with new variants of COVID-19 around, it’s always best to get tested by your health care provider to make sure of what you are dealing with.

WNV can lead to meningitis or encephalitis in some patients. Five people in Mississippi have died from complications of WNV since 2015.

WNV, “a flavivirus within the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex,” was first recognized in 1999 as the first time “this Old World virus had been identified outside of the Eastern Hemisphere,” said Dr. James J. Sejvar in an 2003 article in The Ochsner Journal.

The virus expanded its range quickly from a six-county area around NYC to the West Coast. By 2002, it was in 44 states, the District of Columbia and five Canadian provinces.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that as of Jan. 11, 2,695 WNV cases in the United States have been reported to them. Of these, 1,855 or 69 percent, were classified as neuroinvasive disease (such as meningitis or encephalitis).

State health officials recommend the following to keep yourself safe:

  • Use mosquito repellent with up to 30 percent DEET.
  • Cover arms and legs with long sleeves and pants while outside.
  • Remove standing water where mosquitoes can breed.
  • Avoid areas where mosquitoes are more likely to be found, such as grassy or wooded areas outdoors, and areas where standing water accumulates
  • Remember that mosquitoes are more active in the morning and evening.
  • Talk to your doctor if you begin to feel any symptoms.