Two more chikungunya cases confirmed in Mississippi

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) announced on Friday that two more people were confirmed to have chikungunya virus.

The Mississippi residents recently returned to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The new cases are in addition to the case confirmed in June, when another Mississippi resident who traveled to Haiti was confirmed to have the disease.

"Chikungunya virus is spread from person to person through the bite of the Aedes mosquito," Thomas Dobbs, the state epidemiologist with the MSDH, said. "It's very important for travelers to the Dominic Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and other Caribbean nations to be especially careful and take proper precautions to protect themselves."

The MSDH advised residents to take precautions 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.