Health Department Concerned About Zika Possibility

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- The Arkansas Health Department is advising people to be cautious this year when it comes to being bitten by mosquitoes.

Dr. Susan Weinstein, the state public health veterinarian, said they are worried about the possibility of the Zika Virus making it's way back into Arkansas.

There has not been a confirmed report of the virus in the state, but that is not the only disease mosquitoes can carry.

Weinstein said people should still put on insect repellent when outside to help prevent the possible spread of the insect's diseases.

Kelly Loftin is an entomologist with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension.

He said the type of mosquitoes that can carry the Zika Virus are called container breeders that can reproduce in anything from a tin can to a birdbath.

These mosquitoes do not fly too far from where they breed and are found around homes.

There is a way though to stop them from breeding.

“If a neighborhood policed their yards, removed anything that holds water like a toy, cans, tin cans, tarps on boats, things like that," Loftin said. "Remove that and drain that water, it can do a whole lot about reducing in that neighborhood.”

Since there has not been a confirmed case in the state, Weinstein said their concerns lie with people traveling to places where the virus is active like South America or the Caribbean.

“They get infected there, they return home from Arkansas and one of our local mosquitoes could pick it up from them," Weinstein said.

To prevent this from happening, she advised travelers to these locations to wear insect repellent for at least three weeks when they return home.

Weinstein also advised those travelers who are sexually active to wear protection for up to six months so they do not spread it to their partners.

She explained that many people who get the virus could not show any symptoms.

Some parents in Fayetteville said they were not worried about the virus just yet.

They said they would not be unless they start to see confirmed cases in the state.