First Zika case reported in Mississippi

First Zika case reported in Mississippi

JACKSON, MS (WDAM) - The Mississippi State Department of Health reported its first case of the Zika virus Thursday, according to a MSDH press release.

The case is from a Madison County resident who recently traveled to Haiti.

According to the press release, Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause birth defects if the virus is contracted during pregnancy. The virus has been prevalent in parts of Africa, Southeast Asia and some Pacific Islands for many years. But, it has recently been reported in more than two dozen countries and now in the U.S.

According to the press release, Aedes Aegypti, the breed of the mosquito that is spreading Zika, has not been detected in the Magnolia State since the mid-1980s.

The Mississippi State Department of Health is now conducting surveillance on all mosquito populations across Mississippi.

"The MSDH is working with medical partners across the state to ensure that the most current national guidelines for preventing and testing for Zika are being followed," State Epidemiologist Thomas Dobbs said in MSDH press release said. "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."

Symptoms of the virus include fever, conjunctivitis or rash and joint pain. The virus can last for several days and up to a week. In fact, 80 percent of those who have the virus show no symptoms at all and death is rare, according to the press release.

Officials advise pregnant women or women who may get pregnant to avoid traveling to countries where the virus has been transmitted. Currently, there are no treatments or vaccines for Zika virus.

"Pregnant women should avoid travel to these countries," Dobbs said in MSDH press release. "At this time, the mosquito spreading Zika in Mexico, South America and the Caribbean is not known to be present in Mississippi."

Health officials also advise that pregnant women should avoid sexual contact or only have protected sex using a condom with any man whole has come back from a country with the Zika virus. According to the press release, this should continue for the duration of the pregnancy.

Precaution should be taken by all traveler to countries with Zika outbreaks, according to MSDH.

Here are some basic protective measures:

  • Use a recommended mosquito repellant that contains DEET while you are outdoors
  • Avoid areas where mosquitoes are prevalent
  • Wear loose, light-colored clothing to cover arms and legs when outdoors during the day or night
  • Also, travelers returning from countries with Zika transmission should take protective measures to avoid mosquito bites in the state to avoid transmitting the Zika virus to local mosquitoes.