Zika Informational Town Hall Held In Fort Smith

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- On Thursday (Aug. 25) a town hall meeting was held in Fort Smith to address safety concerns over the Zika virus.

The River Valley Economic Development Council and the Believe in Fort Smith sponsored the event with a panel of experts there to talk about the the Zika virus.

More than 40 cases of the virus have been reported in Florida. The Arkansas Department of Health released the information of 12 confirmed traveling cases in the state.

"There are roughly 55 different kinds of mosquitoes in Arkansas. The Asian Tiger mosquito is the one that transmits Zika," said environmental specialist with the Sebastian County Health Department, Mike Cartwright. Cartwright was on the expert panel.

He said there is currently no data on how prevalent that particular type of mosquito is in the River Valley.

"We are in the process of collecting mosquitoes," Cartwright said. "One of the reasons for that is to see exactly how widespread the mosquito is that carries Zika."

Cartwright said he is helping collect those mosquitos and said they are being checked at a U.S. Air Force  lab for the Zika virus.

"From what I understand, what results have been obtained, so far we do not," he said when asked if any mosquitoes were tested positive.

There were many questions asked about the treatment of the Zika virus. Not much on its effect could be answered since so little is known, but the experts wanted to relay that it's time to start thinking about prevention.

"It's actually a mistake to put them on the deck. You want to put them out in the yard to draw mosquitoes to them," said Mosie Boyd, event coordinator as she held up an electric mosquito zapper.

Sprays and lotions were among the items also recommended but most importantly experts talked about eliminating standing water on a property.

"Zika mosquitoes have already been discovered in southern Oklahoma. The National Institute of Health says that Louisiana and Texas are going to be next," Boyd said.

A representative with the City of Fort Smith was on the expert panel as well. The expert said trucks spraying mosquito repellent have doubled their output. He said each neighborhood is sprayed twice a week now compared to once a week.