Suspected Equine West Nile Virus Case In Mississippi

Mississippi public health & animal health officials announced the first identification of West Nile Virus in Mississippi on Sept. 19.

A horse from western Lee County has been found infected with West Nile virus (WNV) virus by testing performed through the State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Initial tests on a second horse from the same area suggest WNV infection; confirmatory testing at the national level is pending.

In addition, numerous dead blue jays have been found in Tupelo. Blue jays are among the most susceptible birds to WNV. Testing of a number of these birds is in progress & will take at least several days. Shelby County, Tennessee [across the northern border of Mississippi] this week reported state-level WNV confirmations in birds.

No human case of West Nile virus infection has been identified so far in Mississippi.

To help further identify WNV in Mississippi, the State Department of Health asks the public to participate by reporting and submitting dead crows and blue jays to the local health department for testing. Other species should be reported, but those will not be collected for testing. Instructions for submitting birds and more information on WNV can be obtained from the MSDH website at: http://www.msdh.state.ms.us/epi or by calling Health Info, 800/489-7670, during weekday work hours.

For questions about horses, readers may call Dr. Jim Watson, the State Veterinarian, at 888/646-8731 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

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