/More Zika cases likely for Mississippi

More Zika cases likely for Mississippi

Dr. Thomas Dobbs, state epidemiologist, said that two Zika cases were confirmed within hours of one another last week. Dobbs stated that he expects there to be more cases related to travel. He said that Zika infection in Mississippi is unlikely. Dobbs advised Mississippi residents who are planning to travel to South America or the Caribbean to be cautious to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. The Department of Health recommends wearing long sleeves, using a DEET-based repellent and making sure all windows are covered. The Zika virus is transmitted primarily by the Aedes aegypti insect, which can be found in certain Caribbean and South American countries. Since 1986, Mississippi has not seen the aedes-aegypti moth. The Mississippi Department of Health announced that a Madison County resident had contracted Zika. Friday morning they confirmed another case in a Noxubee County teenager. Both had been on mission trips in Haiti when they were infected. The Health Department did not say if the two cases were related as of Monday. Liz Sharlot (communications director, Mississippi Department of Health), stated that “this is a very popular time of the year to go on mission trips if your from here.” “We have been waiting for this. “We knew we’d have cases related to travel,” said Dr. Slater Lowry of Columbus. His clinic was visited by her with flu-like symptoms shortly after she returned from Haiti on February 25th. Lowry stated that he had not read much about Zika before that day. However, the teenager had three symptoms that he found unusual. Lowry stated that Zika is evident in the red-eyes and rash as well as the tender joints. “But
I’m currently in Columbus. “I guess I don’t think about Zika virus cases when I get up each morning to go to work,” Lowry said. She sent her lab results to the Centers for Disease Control Atlanta that day. They confirmed that the test was positive for Zika four weeks later. Lowry said that the patient was fully recovered when she received her diagnosis. “She was tired and a bit run down for a while. Lowry stated that it took her two to three weeks to get back to normal. After Brazilian officials suggested that microcephaly could be linked to infected pregnant women, the disease was brought to international attention in January. Sharlot stated that women of child bearing age are our primary concern. Dobbs said that doctors are still unsure about the safe time for a woman to become pregnant with Zika after infection. The virus remains in the blood for an average of seven days after symptoms begin. Zika is not a disease that causes symptoms in up to 80%. Dobbs stated that even people who are not symptomatic could spread the virus. “That’s why it’s recommended that anyone who has traveled to a Zika country should do all they can to avoid getting bit for at least three weeks.” There have been 273 cases of Zika-associated travel in the United States. 19 of these cases are among pregnant women. No cases of Zika virus have been reported in the United States. Dobbs stated that the mosquitoes we have are not the same as the ones carrying the virus. However, other mosquitoes may pose a risk. Sharlot mentioned the possibility of infection by the aedes albopictus mosquito, which is a common species in the southeastern United States. The Zika virus is highly sexually transmissible because it can be retained in semen for up to 60 days after infection. Sixteen of the 273 Zika infections were transmitted by sex. The Department of Health has advised men who have been to Zika countries, even if they are not symptomatic, that they should avoid unprotected sex during pregnancy. The Department of Health warns Zika-positive men to not have unprotected sex for six months with women of childbearing years. Sharlot stated that “public health always errs in the side of being conservative.”