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Breaking News: First Case of Zika Virus Reported in Mississippi

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The Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH) reports today the state has its first case of Zika virus. The infected person is a Madison County resident who recently traveled to Haiti.

Zika is a virus carried by mosquitoes that can cause major birth defects if contracted during pregnancy. The rarely-fatal infection can cause a mild illness with fever, joint pain, conjunctivitis or rash lasting for a handful of days to a week, but MSDH reports that 80 percent of the infected show no symptoms at all.

The breed of mosquito that is spreading Zika – Aedes Aegypti – has not been detected in Mississippi since the mid-eighties, according to MSDH. The department is currently keeping track on the mosquito population within the state.

Zika virus has been reported largely in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs said on MSDH website, “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.”

Travis King
Travis King

Assistant professor of UM Department of Pharmacy Practice, Samuel Travis King, said, “The first case of Zika Virus (ZIKAV) in Mississippi is certainly troubling; however, not entirely unexpected. As residents of Mississippi continue to travel to areas of active ZIKAV transmission, it’s not unreasonable to assume more cases will emerge. The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) has taken a proactive and thorough approach to the ZIKAV, including bringing the necessary detection tests in-house. Unfortunately, determining the actual number of infections in returning travelers is complicated by the asymptomatic nature of most ZIKAV infections. Mississippi has not seen the primary vector, Aedes aegypti mosquito, in several decades; however, it is possible that other Aedes species may facilitate some spread of the virus. As the spring/summer months come and go, the scope of local transmission will be fully realized.”

King also works in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi.

“Strict adherence to the CDC’s travel bans/precautions by pregnant individuals remains paramount. Comprehensive mosquito prevention measures will help minimize the risk of ZIKAV acquisition if travel is deemed necessary. The emerging data highlighting the risk of sexual transmission of ZIKAV underscores the importance of condom use in minimizing ZIKAV spread to partners of returning travelers, particularly to those individuals who are or may become pregnant. At this time, necessary duration of condom is unclear. For up-to-date information and recommendations, the CDC’s and MSDH’s websites remain the most reliable sources,” he said.

Read his HottyToddy.com column on what Zika virus means to Mississippians here: http://hottytoddy.com/2016/02/01/zika-virus-breaking-down-the-facts-and-what-it-means-for-mississippians/.


Callie Daniels Bryant is the senior managing editor at HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com.

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