Panola County West Nile Virus

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 19, 2008

Panola added to list of West Nile cases

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) this week reported a Panola County case among six new human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) for 2008, bringing the state’s total number of WNV cases to 84 with two deaths.

Other new cases are in Calhoun, Hinds (2), Jasper, and Marion counties. The MSDH reports both confirmed and probable cases to the public. 

This week’s report is the first this year to include a Panola Countian.

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Last year, the Department of Health reported one case in Panola County. Shortly after the case was reported, Mt. Olivet peach orchard owner Tom McCullar told The Panolian that he was the statistic.

The MSDH conducts statewide mosquito testing with its most intensive surveillance during the peak WNV mosquito reproduction months of July, August and September. It is important to remember that mosquito-borne diseases, including WNV, occur statewide and throughout the year, a press release from the department said.  

The MSDH encourages all Mississippians to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of contracting WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses: remove sources of standing water; avoid mosquito-prone areas, especially between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active; wear protective clothing (such as long-sleeved shirts and pants) when in mosquito-prone areas; and apply a DEET-based mosquito repellent according to the manufacturer’s directions.

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.

Dead birds that test positive for West Nile virus are leading indicators for human cases of the disease. Birds that appear to be most severely affected are crows and blue-jays, but cardinals, sparrows and birds of prey such as owls and hawks are also important indicators.

The public can report all species of dead birds to their local county health department through the West Nile virus hotline at 1-877-WST-NILE.

For more information on WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses, a checklist to reduce the mosquito population in and around homes, and a brochure on WNV, visit the MSDH Web site at or call the WNV toll-free hotline from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 1-877-WST-NILE (1-877-978-6453).