/Third case of Zika infection confirmed in Mississippi

Third case of Zika infection confirmed in Mississippi

This is the third Zika-related infection in Mississippians in less than two months. This patient, a Oktibbeha County resident, was infected while doing mission work to Haiti. The Department of Health announced that a Madison County resident was infected with the virus on March 24. The department confirmed that the virus had been transmitted to a Noxubee County resident on March 25. The department could not confirm which of the two cases was contracted from the same trip. Liz Sharlot, Director of Communications for the Department of Health, said, “It’s so crucial that I point out…with these mission trips, people need to think about these trips. If they’re going over there, they should protect themselves.” The department advises that anyone who travels to areas where Zika is actively transmitted (primarily in Central and South American and Caribbean regions) to do all they can to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Wear long sleeves, remove standing water from any nearby properties, use a DEET-based insecticide and screen all windows and doors. According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, symptoms such as fever, joint pain, and red eyes are usually mild and last for less than a week. Eighty percent don’t have any symptoms. The World Health Organization declared an emergency on February 1st after microcephaly clusters and other neurological disorders were discovered in Zika-affected areas. While the CDC has yet to confirm a link between Zika virus and these disorders they believe that pregnant women who have contracted the virus are more likely to give birth to babies with microcephaly. This is a condition where the brain develops slowly and the skull is small. Sharlot stated that the Department of Health is focusing on prevention of infection in pregnant women. A mission trip to Haiti should not be made by a pregnant woman. Sharlot stated that any Zika-affected country is also a good choice. Sharlot said that any woman who is pregnant or planning to have one should be aware of the risks involved in traveling with the virus. The virus can be transmitted sexually, however, as it remains in the semen for up to 60 days. The Department of Health advises that men infected with the virus should not be allowed to have unprotected sexual relations with pregnant women for the entire duration of their pregnancy. According to the Department of Health, the risk of local transmission of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito is very low in Mississippi. Sharlot stated that they are currently monitoring the situation to determine if it is still true. “But, we ask people when you come back, just because of an abundance to avoid mosquito bites during three weeks.” At the moment, there is no Zika outbreak in the United States. However, the CDC confirmed that there were local cases in several American Territories (American Samoa and Puerto Rico, as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands). According to the CDC, another 312 Americans had contracted travel-related infections as of March 30. 27 of these were pregnant women. Sixteen of these cases were sexually transmitted.