Four new West Nile cases in Mississippi

West NileJACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi State Department of Health says four newly confirmed cases of West Nile virus bring the state total to 27 this year. The new cases, reported Monday, include one each in Lamar and Rankin counties and two in Hinds County.

Mississippi’s only death from the virus this year was reported early in July in Bolivar County.

There have now been nine cases in Hinds County, three each in Lamar, Rankin and Forrest counties, two in Leflore County and one each in Bolivar, Lowndes, Madison, Marion and Wayne counties.

By this time last year, Mississippi had reported 140 cases and four deaths. The 2012 total was 247 West Nile cases and five deaths.

West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes. Most people bitten by an infected mosquito don’t show any symptoms. About 10 percent develop flu-like West Nile fever and fewer than 1 percent develop dangerous infections of the brain or spinal cord, which can cause paralysis, coma and death.

The health department advises year-round precautions against mosquitoes, such as removing sources of standing water, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants at dusk and dawn, and using mosquito repellants.