A case of the Zika virus has been reported in Harrison County, officials said.
The infected resident recently had traveled to Puerto Rico, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.
The case brings the total reported in Mississippi this year to 17. Another Harrison County resident was also infected after traveling to Honduras earlier this summer.
All the reported cases in Mississippi have been travel-related, occurring in individuals who had recently traveled to countries where the virus is more prevalent.
No local transmission has been reported in Mississippi.
Two neighborhoods in Miami — South Beach and the Wynwood arts district — are the first areas in the U.S. to see local transmission by mosquitoes.
“So far in Mississippi, all of our Zika cases have been travel-related. It remains crucial that pregnant women not travel to countries where Zika is actively being transmitted,” said MSDH Deputy State Epidemiologist Paul Byers. “Also, we are in peak West Nile virus season in Mississippi, and all residents should be mindful of protecting themselves, regardless of whether there has been a case reported in your county.”
Though Mississippi provides an environment where the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes — which can transmit Zika — can thrive, the breed of mosquitoes hasn’t been detected in the state since the early 1990s.
Zika is a mosquito-born virus that causes severe birth defects, including brain damage, hearing and vision loss, and impaired growth if the mother is infected during pregnancy. Pregnant women are advised to not travel to areas where the virus is prevalent.
An official from the National Institutes of Health said Sunday that the Zika virus could “hang around” the U.S. for a year or two and that Gulf Coast states besides Florida are most vulnerable. Anthony Fauci specifically cited Texas and Louisiana, where flooding could create an environment that the mosquitoes could thrive in.