The following is a transcript of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's radio column for the weekend of Feb. 26, 2016:
There have been a lot of questions surrounding the recent outbreak of Zika virus. As governor, I value the health and safety of all Arkansans and want to do my part to provide people with information about how to help prevent the virus from spreading.
The Arkansas Department of Health is working to promote greater awareness of Zika, evaluating people who may have been exposed to Zika and working with national experts, including the Center for Disease Control, to stay up-to-date on the latest information. The Department of Health is also studying mosquitos in various parts of the state to see where to best direct mosquito control efforts.
In Arkansas we have had only one case, and that was from someone who traveled to an area where Zika infections are occurring. We have not had any evidence of Zika spreading in Arkansas.
Here’s what we know about Zika virus:
In May 2015, Zika first appeared in Brazil. Since then, it has spread to Central and South America, as well as to the Caribbean. Zika virus is spread mainly through mosquito bites.
The primary symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and red, itchy eyes. These symptoms are usually mild and last up to a week. However, many people who become infected with Zika virus experience no symptoms at all.
Zika poses the greatest risk to unborn babies of mothers who become infected with the virus. There is evidence suggesting Zika is linked to birth defects, so women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should take precautions and avoid traveling to areas where Zika is present.
Here’s what you can do to prevent the spread of Zika virus in your hometown:
As the weather gets warmer and mosquitos become more rampant, use insect repellants containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus. When outside, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. When indoors, make sure your window and door screens are keeping mosquitos out. Also, empty standing water near your home from containers like flowerpots or buckets to prevent mosquitos from breeding.
For more information about Zika virus and what you can do to help prevent it from spreading, please visit cdc.gov/zika or call the Arkansas Department of Health at (501) 661-2000.