MSDH advises pregnant women to avoid traveling to countries where Zika virus prevalent

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — The Mississippi State Department of Health is asking pregnant women avoid traveling to countries where the Zika virus is prevalent.

“Mississippians are not at risk for becoming infected with this virus unless they travel. Pregnant women should avoid travel to these countries,” said Mississippi State Department of Health State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “The mosquito spreading Zika in Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean is not known to be present in Mississippi.”

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that may cause devastating birth defects if contracted during pregnancy. Zika virus infection can cause a mild illness with symptoms of ever, joint pain, conjunctivitis or rash. The illness can last for several days to a week, but 80 percent of those infected show no symptoms at all.

Zika has been found in some countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, and some Pacific islands for several years. However, it has been recently reported in about 30 countries, mostly in the Caribbean, Central, and South America.

The breed of mosquito that is spreading Zika is not found in Mississippi. There are no available treatments or vaccines for Zika virus.

There have been no cases reported in Mississippi.

“The MSDH is working with medical partners across the state to ensure that the most current national guidelines for preventing and testing for Zika are being followed,” said Dr. Dobbs. “The MSDH Public Health Lab is developing the ability to test for Zika in-house to allow for rapid turnaround and high volume testing should the need arise.”

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