Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said Mississippians should remain cautious no matter how many positive tests are reported statewide.
"The take-home message is that we know West Nile Virus is out there," said Byers. "We have positive cases in the northern and southern parts of the state.
"Everyone is potentially at risk so people need to be taking precautions no matter what county they are from."
While it may be difficult to track what county an individual was infected in — unless the individual never leaves the county — documentation of infections are reported based on person's county of residence.
"We can only identify positive results based on someone's county of residence — this is how we report our cases," said Byers.
Privacy laws prevent the health department from publicly releasing information about those infected.
Byers said the majority of people infected by WNV show no symptoms, thus making it nearly impossible to determine the exact number of infected individuals.
Approximately 20 percent of those with the disease reflect the symptoms of fever, headache, rash and nausea.
"So what it comes down to is having an individual sick enough go to the doctor and then they would have a West Nile Virus test done," added Byers. "Then doctors or labs inform us of the positive results."
Byers said taking the extra steps to remain cautious is the best way to stay safe.
• Using mosquito repellent when going outside
• Staying aware of active mosquito times — especially early morning and late afternoon
• Removing any potential breeding areas around your home – especially any amounts of standing water
While the number of positive WNV cases has nearly tripled from last year — from 52 to 148 this year — Byers said there's no defining reason for the increase.
"We have fluctuation from year to year, and it's very hard to predict from one year to the next. Whatever the reason, this just happens to be one of the most active years.
"It looks like West Nile Virus is here to stay in Mississippi," he said.
For more information on the virus visit www.msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/14,0,93.html
The health department has set up a WNV virus that can be reached from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The toll free number is 1-877-WST-NILE.