Zika virus spreads to United States, Arkansas resident tests positive

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (January 26, 2016) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed Monday afternoon that an Arkansas resident tested positive for Zika virus. The resident had recently traveled out of the country.

Zika virus is a relatively new disease for the Western hemisphere, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. It first appeared in Brazil in May of 2015, and it has since spread to 20 countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Zika is spread through mosquito bites, not casual person-to-person contact. According to the CDC, the most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and red, itchy eyes. Symptoms are usually mild and last several days to a week. Many people who have Zika will not experience symptoms. There is currently no vaccine or treatment for Zika.

Pregnant women are most at risk for complications from the Zika virus because serious birth defects have been reported in children born to women who are infected with the virus. The CDC has issued travel guidance for women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant.

“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,” said Dr. Nate Smith, Arkansas Department of Health Director and State Health Officer.

Ways to avoid mosquito bites include:

  • Using an insect repellant containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers.
  • Using air conditioning or window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Reducing the number of mosquitoes inside and outside your home by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots or buckets. Mosquitoes can breed in as little amount of water as a bottle cap.

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