Mosquito virus cases reported

Published 7:00 am Thursday, July 3, 2014

Even though summer is just ramping up, two mosquito borne illnesses have already been reported in Mississippi.

Early in June the Mississippi State Department of Health reported that the second confirmed case of West Nile Virus was confirmed in Newton County. The first case of the year was reported in February in Hinds County.

On June 23 the department reported the first confirmed chikungunya virus infection in Mississippi.

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According to a release from the department, the resident took a recent trip to Haiti, which is where the virus is suspected to have been contracted. The release does not state which county the Mississippi resident lives in.

The release states that several other cases are being investigated to determine if those patients also have the virus.

Chikungunya virus is usually found in the countries of Africa and Asia, but recently began to be found in the Caribbean. Mississippi residents who travel to any of these areas could potentially contract the virus, the release states.

“Chikungunya virus is spread from person to person through the bite of the Aedes mosquitto,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs in the release. “It’s very important for travelers to the Dominic Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and other Caribbean nations to be especially careful and take proper precautions to protect themselves.”

Just like with the West Nile Virus, precautions can be employed against mosquito borne illnesses such as using mosquito repellants that contain DEET, removing standing water from around the home, wearing loose light colored clothing that covers the arms and legs and avoiding areas where mosquitos are in high concentration, the release states.

Mosquitos that carry the chikungunya virus are most active during the day, the release states.

Symptoms of the virus include fever, muscle pain, and swelling and pain in the joints, the release states.

While deaths from this virus are rare, anyone with a compromised immune system is more susceptible to experiencing complications.

Anyone who thinks they may have the virus is urged to seek assistance from a healthcare professional and stay indoors for at least 10 days to avoid spreading the virus to other Mississippi residents, since local mosquitos populations are capable of transmitting it, the release states.