(WMC) - The Mississippi State Department of Health confirmed its first case of chikungunya on Monday. Several potential cases remain under investigation.
Symptoms of the mosquito-borne illness, traditionally found in Africa and Asia, 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.
Officials say the chikungunya virus has recently appeared in the Caribbean, and could possibly infect Mississippians who travel there.
"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 individuals who think they might be infected with chikungunya virus to see their health care provider and to stay indoors while they are 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 the virus and spread it to other people."
The MSDH suggests the following precautions to protect yourself and your environment from chikungunya and 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.
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