June 18, 2014 10:49:35 AM
JACKSON -- The Mississippi State Department of Health is investigating its first potential case of chikungunya (chik-en-gun-ye) virus, a mosquito-borne illness traditionally found in Africa and Asia.
State health officials said Tuesday that a Mississippi resident who recently returned from Haiti may have the illness. Symptoms include fever, muscle and joint pain and joint swelling. Deaths are rare, but officials say anyone with a compromised immune system is at a higher risk of complications from the infection.
"Chikungunya virus is spread from person to person through the bite of the Aedes mosquito," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs.
Dobbs said people who think they might be infected with the virus should see their health care provider and stay indoors while sick.
"Mississippi residents who are sick with chikungunya should stay indoors for at least 10 days and avoid mosquito bites, as native Mississippi mosquitoes could pick up the virus and spread it to other people," he said.
State officials suggest the following precautions as protections from chikungunya as well as West Nile virus:
■ Use a mosquito repellent that contains DEET while outdoors.
■ Remove all standing water around the home to prevent mosquito breeding.
■ Wear loose, light-colored, long clothing to cover the arms and legs when outdoors.
■ Avoid areas where mosquitoes are prevalent.
■ Mississippi State Department of Health: HealthyMS.com
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