First Zika case in Oktibbeha County

James Carskadon
Staff Writer

An Oktibbeha County resident has become the third reported person in Mississippi to contract the Zika virus, the Mississippi State Department of Health announced Wednesday.
According to MSDH, the resident who contracted the mosquito-borne virus recently traveled to Haiti. Mississippi’s other two reported cases came in Madison and Noxubee county residents, both of whom also traveled to Haiti.
The virus can cause serious birth defects if contracted during pregnancy. However, 80 percent of people that contract Zika have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Death from the Zika virus is very rare, according to MSDH.
“At least 42 other U.S. states and territories have already reported travel-associated cases,” State Epidemiologist Thomas Dobbs said. “With late spring and summer approaching, we know it is a popular time for mission trips and vacations to these areas. Please be especially mindful of protecting yourself from mosquitoes while you’re abroad. Simple steps can make a big difference.”
Zika has been reported in approximately 30 countries recently, mostly in the Caribbean, Central and South America. The breed of mosquito that caries the virus has not been detected in Mississippi since the mid-1980s.
“Pregnant women should not be traveling to these countries,” Dobbs said. “At this time, the mosquito spreading Zika in Mexico, South America and the Caribbean is not known to be present in Mississippi. All of the cases reported in the United States so far are related to international travel.”
OCH Regional Medical Center Infection Control Director Savannah Brown previously recommended residents use insect repellent, keep limbs covered, and avoding having standing water near a home.
The virus can be transmitted sexually, although it is rare.
MSDH recommended that travelers returning from countries where the Zika virus is prevalent should take precaution to avoid mosquito bites in Mississippi so the virus is not transmitted to local mosquitos.
“The MSDH Public Health Laboratory now has the ability to test for Zika in-house to allow for rapid turnaround and high volume testing should the need arise,” MSDH said in a new release.
For more information on Zika or other mosquito-borne illnesses, visit For updated information on Zika around the country, visit