Second Zika case reported in Mississippi

Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 26, 2016

Friday, the Mississippi State Department of Health confirmed its second case of Zika virus in a resident from Noxubee County who recently traveled to Haiti, an MSDH release states.
According to the release, the first case was reported Thursday in Madison County. That person also traveled to Haiti.
Zika is a mosquito-borne illness that can cause devastating birth defects if contracted during pregnancy, the release states. The Zika infection can cause fever, joint pain, conjunctivitis or rash, which can last up to a week.
However, 80 percent of those infected show no symptoms and death is rare, the release states.
According to the MSDH, Zika has been reported in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean and Central and South America. The virus is spread through the bite of an Aedes Aegypti mosquito, a breed that has not been seen in Mississippi since the mid-1980s. The MSDH is currently conducting surveillance on mosquito populations, the release states.
Pregnant women, or those who may get pregnant, should avoid travel to countries where Zika is reported. Pregnant women should also avoid sexual contact, or have protected sex using a condom, with a male who has returned from a country with Zika, the release states. These precautions should continue for the duration of the pregnancy. Six cases have been confirmed to have occurred as a result of sex with an infected partner, the release states.
“Pregnant women should avoid travel to these countries,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs said in the release. “At this time, the mosquito spreading Zika in Mexico, South America and the Caribbean are not known to be present in Mississippi. Three U.S. territories and 36 other states have already reported travel-associated cases. With late spring and summer approaching, we know it is a popular time for mission trips and vacations to these areas. Please be especially mindful of protecting yourself from mosquitoes while you’re abroad. Simple steps can make a big difference.”
MSDH advised travelers to use a mosquito repellant that contains DEET, avoid areas where mosquitoes are prevalent and wear loose, light colored clothing to cover arms and legs.
Travelers returning from countries with Zika should take precautions for at least three weeks to avoid mosquito bites in Mississippi to avoid transmitting the virus to local mosquitoes. There are no treatments or vaccine for Zika, the release states.
“The MSDH is working with medical partners across the state to ensure that the most current national guidelines for preventing and testing Zika are being followed,” Dobbs said in the release. “The MSDH Public Health Laboratory now has the ability to test for Zika in-house to allow for rapid turnaround and high volume testing should the need arise.”

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