The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is confirming two new cases of chikungunya virus in Mississippi residents. The cases occurred in residents who recently returned from the Dominican Republic and Haiti. These cases are in addition to a case reported in a Mississippi resident in June who had also traveled to Haiti.
A mosquito-borne illness traditionally found in Africa and Asia, chikungunya virus is now infecting more and more people throughout the Caribbean, and could possibly infect Mississippians who travel there.
Symptoms of chikungunya infection include fever, muscle and joint pain, and swelling of the joints. Deaths from chikungunya virus are rare, but anyone with a compromised immune system is at higher risk of complications from the infection.
“Chikungunya virus is spread from person to person through the bite of the Aedes mosquito,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “It’s very important for travelers to the Dominic Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and other Caribbean nations to be especially careful and take proper precautions to protect themselves.”
The MSDH suggests the following precautions to protect yourself and your environment from chikungunya and other mosquito borne illness, including West Nile virus:
- Use a recommended mosquito repellent that contains DEET while you are outdoors.
- Remove all sources of standing water around your home and yard to prevent mosquito breeding.
- Wear loose, light-colored, long clothing to cover the arms and legs when outdoors.
- Avoid areas where mosquitoes are prevalent. Mosquitoes that carry chikungunya virus are especially active during the day.
- Travelers to the Caribbean should prevent mosquito exposures. Please see www.HealthyMS.com/chik for more information.
Individuals who think they might be infected with chikungunya virus should see their healthcare provider and stay indoors for at least 10 days to avoid mosquito bites as native Mississippi mosquitoes could spread the virus to other people.