JACKSON, MISS– Local transmission of Zika Virus has been reported in Miami, Florida, causing health officials to discuss whether or not the virus could be spread in the Magnolia state.
It is hard to determine whether or not Zika will become locally channeled in Mississippi.
“Short answer, we don’t know,” said Dr. Skip Nolan, Professor-Clinical Director of Infectious Diseases at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
The mosquito believed to be the culprit of the Zika Virus outbreak in Miami is called the aedes aegypti, and is one that has been found in Mississippi before, though it has been a long time.
“The last time the state health department found aedes aegypti in Mississippi was in the late 1990’s,” said Nolan. The Mississippi Department of Health tests the mosquito population on a regular basis.
But Nolan said just because they are not found, that does not mean aedes aegypti are not in Mississippi at all.
“It’s like when you lose your keys in your living room,” said Nolan. “They’re there. But you’re not seeing them.”
Nolan said that by not finding that particular species of mosquito, while it does not prove their absence in Mississippi, it does offer a bit of peace of mind.
“It does offer assurance that the most efficient spreader of Zika is not in Mississippi,” said Nolan.
The doctor added that even if the mosquito population were in Mississippi, the environment is not one conducive to aedes aegypti.
“These mosquito populations are high in places where the population of people is high in a small area,” said Nolan. “They’re living cheek to cheek in a small area, and those mosquitoes prefer indoors, where it is cramped and with little air conditioning.”
Nolad added that mosquito breeding can take place in less than a teaspoon of water, and that eradicating standing water around your home reduces the chances of any mosquito-borne illness.
“Even if it’s just a can in the front yard with a little water in it,” said Nolan. ” Dump that out. It’s a breeding ground for mosquitoes. They actually prefer shallower water.”
Other tips for protecting yourself against mosquito-borne illness here.