Mississippi investigates possible chikungunya virus case

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) announced on Tuesday that it is investigating a possible case of chikungunya virus.

The potential case is a Mississippi resident who recently returned from Haiti. If confirmed, it would be the first case of chikungunya in the state.

MSDH is taking steps to prevent the spread of the disease.

"Chikungunya virus is spread from person to person through the bite of the Aedes mosquito," MSDH State Epidemiologist Thomas Dobbs said. "It's very important for individuals who think they might be infected with chikungunya virus to see their healthcare 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 up the virus and spread it to other people."

MSDH issued precautions for residents to take to prevent chikungunya infection, including using a mosquito repellent that contains DEET and removing all sources of standing water from in and around the home to prevent mosquito breeding.

Chikungunya symptoms include fever, headache, rash, tiredness, nausea and muscle and joint paint. Deaths from the virus are rare, but those with weakened immune systems are more susceptible.

The chikungunya fever epidemic started in the Dominican Republic and spread to Haiti. Isolated cases of the disease have also been observed in the U.S. in recent years.