The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed late yesterday afternoon that an Arkansas resident has tested positive for Zika virus. This individual recently traveled out of the country and had a mild case of Zika.
Zika virus is a relatively new disease for the Western hemisphere. It first appeared in Brazil in May of 2015. 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 is planning studies to learn more about the connection between Zika and children born with these birth defects. In the meantime, the CDC has issued travel guidance for women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant. You can stay up-to-date on their latest travel notices at www.cdc.gov/travel.
“Arkansas residents traveling to Central or South America or the Caribbean, where Zika is present, should take precautions against mosquitoes. If you are pregnant, consider postponing your trip,” said Dr. Nate Smith, Arkansas Department of Health Director and State Health Officer. “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.”
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.
- Three Zika infections reported in New York
- Zika will likely spread throughout the Americas: WHO
- Illinois: Zika virus confirmed in two pregnant residents