The Mississippi Department of Health only releases statistics about laboratory-confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne illness. Last year, Mississippi had 43 West Nile Virus cases, and 7 deaths. So far, those numbers are lower this year.
"We're at 37 cases right now, and 1 death. Last year, we recorded 43 cases ad 7 deaths. We're very grateful that our number of deaths have gone down, but of course we would like to have no deaths at all," says MSDH spokesperson, Liz Sharlot.
The one death this year, in Attala County, was confirmed in August - one of the peak months of the virus. Some symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, and muscle weakness. In some instances, infection leading to encephalitis or meningitis could possibly result in paralysis, coma, and death.
Sharlot says community outreach may be the key to lower the number of cases.
"When we identify some positive mosquitos in an area, we work with communities to do spraying. So, I think the combination of working with the communities and folks taking care of themselves, making sure their surrounding environment is clear - the combination can help us keep our numbers down," Sharlot says.
Sharlot says although the West Nile virus season subsides after September, it is still important to protect yourself year-round.
Other mosquito-borne illnesses include malaria and yellow fever.