JACKSON, Miss.–Just like West Nile virus, chikungunya is spread by mosquitoes and the Miss. Dept. of Health is now looking into what may be the first case of the virus, which originated in Africa and Asia, in Mississippi.
The Health Dept. did not release any details about where in the state the person lives, but did say that person recently returned from Haiti, which is where they believe the person contracted it.
The main focus now, according State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs, is to keep Mississippi’s native mosquito population from picking it up and infecting others in the state.
Symptoms of chikungunya infection include fever, muscle and joint pain, and swelling of the joints. Deaths from chikungunya virus are rare, but anyone with a compromised immune system is at higher risk of complications from the infection.
“Chikungunya virus is spread from person to person through the bite of the Aedes mosquito,” said Dobbs. “It’s very important for individuals who think they might be infected with chikungunya virus to see their healthcare provider and to stay indoors while they are sick. Mississippi residents who are sick with chikungunya should stay indoors for at least 10 days and avoid mosquito bites, as native Mississippi mosquitoes could pick the virus and spread it to other people.”
The MSDH suggests the following precautions to protect yourself and your environment from chikungunya and West Nile virus:
- Use a recommended mosquito repellent that contains DEET while you are outdoors.
- Remove all sources of standing water around your home and yard to prevent mosquito breeding.
- Wear loose, light-colored, long clothing to cover the arms and legs when outdoors.
- Avoid areas where mosquitoes are prevalent. Mosquitoes that carry chikungunya virus are especially active during the day.
For more information on chikungunya or other mosquito-borne illnesses, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com.