Zika Virus in Arkansas

People don’t typically worry about mosquito bites in the winter, but with all the recent news about Zika virus, people are starting to get a little concerned. As the weather warms up mosquitoes will become more common. So should you be worried about the Zika virus in Arkansas?

Zika is in more than 20 countries, islands, and territories across the globe, and is quickly spreading in the Caribbean, South America, and Central America (including Mexico). The virus has been found in 13 states and in Washington D.C. Although there have been several confirmed cases of Zika in the United States, none have been caused by a bite in the mainland U.S. The virus has been contracted by people who are traveling abroad to places where Zika is common.

Arkansas is one of the states where the Zika virus has been confirmed, but this does not mean that Zika is being transmitted by mosquitoes in Arkansas. The Arkansas Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a “mild case of Zika” in an Arkansas resident who had recently traveled abroad.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, the mosquitoes in Arkansas are capable of carrying and transmitting the virus. If a mosquito in Arkansas bites someone who is infected with the Zika virus, that mosquito will then be able to transmit the virus. That’s why it’s especially important to avoid mosquito bites for 10 days after returning from an area with the Zika virus.

Of course, most people want to avoid mosquito bites anyway. Here are some things that you can do to avoid mosquito bites and Zika virus.

  • Get rid of potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes. This could be an old bucket that has collected rainwater, or a neglected bird bath. Mosquitoes love standing water.
  • Know when mosquitoes are most active (morning and evening) and avoid unnecessary exposure.
  • Use air conditioning or screens on windows to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
  • Wear pants and long shirts to protect your skin from bites.
  • Use bug spray to repel mosquitoes. Read the instructions carefully, and use accordingly.
  • Take extra precautions when traveling to the Caribbean, South America, or Central America, including Mexico.

Although there has been a confirmed case of Zika in Arkansas, you don’t necessarily have to worry about contracting the Zika virus just by getting a mosquito bite in your own backyard. So far, there have been no cases of Zika caused by a bite in the United States. It is important, however to protect yourself from mosquitoes, and know the warning signs of Zika virus.