The first human case of West Nile virus in the U.S. in 2016 is in Mississippi. MPB's Mark Rigsby talked to the state epidemiologist about the dangers of the virus.
A person in Lamar County is the first with West Nile this year. Dr. Thomas Dobbs is the state epidemiologist for the Mississippi Department of Health.
"For people who live in Mississippi, West Nile is a current risk. Individuals need to do everything they can to prevent the mosquito bites that can cause West Nile," says Dobbs.
One person in Mississippi died from West Nile last year. Seven people died in 2014.
"I was partially paralyzed. I was in a coma for three weeks. I was on life support," says William Terry, of Jackson, who contracted West Nile in 2002. He was the second case ever in Mississippi.
"In a wheelchair for six to eight months. Couldn't walk. Never want to go through it again," says Terry.
Peak season for the virus is July to September, but West Nile is a year-round virus. People can protect themselves against mosquitoes when outdoors, by wearing long sleeves and pants, getting rid of mosquito breeding areas like standing water, and using mosquito repellent with DEET is recommended, especially in the evening when mosquitoes are likely to bite. The symptoms of West Nile virus are: headache, nausea, rash, fever, vomiting, swollen lymph nodes or muscle weakness. Dr. Dobbs says there's no cure for the virus. He urges a person with these symptoms to seek medical care quickly.