JACKSON, Miss. – A third case of Zika Virus has been confirmed in the Magnolia State.
The Mississippi Department of Health says the person diagnosed in Oktibbeha County recently traveled to Haiti.
The other two cases confirmed–one in Madison County and one Noxubee County–were folks who had both traveled to Haiti.
Zika is carried by mosquitoes and can cause life-threatening birth defects if a pregnant woman get the virus. For everyone else, flu like symptoms are mild. In fact, many have such light symptoms that they may not even know they have the virus unless they get checked.
The breed of mosquito that is spreading Zika – Aedes aegypti – has not been detected in Mississippi since the mid-1980s. The MSDH is currently conducting surveillance on all mosquito populations in the state.
If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should still be careful of this illness.
“Pregnant women should not be traveling to these countries,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “At this time, the mosquito spreading Zika in Mexico, South America and the Caribbean is not known to be present in Mississippi. All of the cases reported in the United States so far are related to international travel.”
“At least 42 other U.S. states and territories have already reported travel-associated cases,” Dobbs said. “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.”
The MSDH advises that precautions should be taken by all travelers to countries with Zika outbreaks. Precautions for travelers include basic protective measures against mosquito-borne illnesses such as using a recommended mosquito repellent that contains DEET while you are outdoors, avoiding areas where mosquitoes are prevalent, and wearing loose, light-colored clothing to cover the arms and legs when outdoors during the day or night. Travelers recently returning from countries with ongoing Zika transmission should take special precautions to avoid mosquito bites in Mississippi to avoid transmitting the virus to local mosquitoes. Precautions should continue for three weeks. There are no available treatments or vaccines for Zika virus.
Cleaning up standing water around the home is an advisable activity to prevent multiple mosquito borne viruses, but returning travelers should not perform this activity in order to avoid local mosquito exposure.
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.