Update on Zika Virus in Arkansas

Spring is officially here, which means mosquitoes will be bothering us very soon. You may have already seen a few flying around in your backyard, but as the weather gets warmer we can expect to see mosquitoes more often. Here’s an update on Zika virus in Arkansas, along with some information that can help keep you and your family safe.

An update on Zika virus in Arkansas

There was a Zika scare in the summer of 2016 when the first reports of Zika virus in Arkansas surfaced. As of January 2017, there have been 18 confirmed cases of Zika virus infection in Arkansas. 100% of these infections resulted from travel to areas with known Zika activity. This means that none of the reported cases of Zika virus in Arkansas were caused by mosquitoes in Arkansas.

Dr. Nate Smith, director and state health officer of the Arkansas Department of Health, had this to say about mosquitoes and Zika virus in Arkansas:

“Arkansas has the kind of mosquitoes that carry Zika virus, so mosquitoes here in Arkansas can become infected with the virus if they bite someone who has Zika. For this reason, people traveling to countries with Zika should avoid mosquito bites for 10 days after they return. Travelers to areas where Zika is present should also go to their doctor if they experience any of the symptoms associated with Zika within three to seven days after they return.”

Zika virus in the United States

Local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission has been reported in two areas in the continental United States – South Florida and Brownsville, Texas – as well as three U.S. territories. It’s important to take proper safety precautions when traveling to these areas, or any other area with active Zika transmission. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put together a world map for active Zika transmission.

Zika prevention

The mosquitoes in Arkansas don’t currently carry Zika virus, but preventing contact with mosquitoes can help keep your family safe. There’s neither a vaccine nor a cure for Zika virus. This means that avoiding mosquito bites is the best way to prevent infection.

  • It’s next to impossible to completely avoid mosquitoes, especially if you spend time outdoors. Insect repellent can protect you from bites, however. The CDC reccomends using an EPA approved insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone.
  • Wear protective clothing – such as pants and shirts with long sleeves – that cover the skin. Exposed skin invites mosquitoes.
  • Install or repair screens on doors and windows to keep mosquitoes and other insects out of your home.
  • Get rid of standing water. Empty anything that can hold water such as flower pots, buckets, and trash containers to prevent mosquitoes from congregating around your home.
  • Again, take extra care when traveling to areas with known active Zika transmission. Here’s how to plan for travel to these areas.