There have been six West Nile Virus cases reported so far this year in Arkansas, and two cases of locally acquired Lyme disease.
At least one of the cases of West Nile Virus is suspected to have originated in the Fort Smith area. The city of Fort Smith runs mosquito-spraying trucks April to the end of October.
Meg Mirivel, spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Health, noted the agency has seen between nine and 18 cases of West Nile Virus per year in Arkansas over the last five years. There were 64 cases of West Nile in Arkansas in 2012.
"We know mosquitoes and ticks, combined, spread a variety of serious illnesses, so we encourage Arkansans to use insect repellent when outside," Mirivel wrote.
The largest number of tick-related illnesses come from Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis. There have been 806 cases in Arkansas so far this year. There were 1,218 last year, and over 800 cases each of the three prior years. Erlichiosis, another tick-born disease, has seen high numbers over the past five years: 165 in 2013; 193 in 2015; 204 in 2016; 207 in 2017 and 141 so far this year.
The year 2018 has actually had the least amount of mosquito-related illnesses so far in the past six years. There have been 10 so far. There were 10 mosquito related illnesses reported to ADH in 2011; 69 in 2012; 23 in 2013; 29 in 2014; 32 in 2015; 38 in 2016; and 24 in 2017.
Mirivel points out though that sometimes there is a delay in reporting. So there could still be more cases reported into the cooler months.
The Fort Smith street and traffic control department uses an EPA-approved chemical with mineral oil for “fogging” the mixture into the air during evening and nighttime hours when fewer people are out of doors. The spraying controls only adult mosquitoes.
“The best mosquito reduction effort is to prevent the hatch of new mosquitoes,” the city website states. “Mosquito larvae need stagnant water for five to seven days in order to hatch. Even small amounts of water such as a bird bath, a clogged gutter or a bucket are sufficient. Citizens should do everything possible to eliminate standing water. If the standing water can’t be eliminated, stirring the standing water every three to four days is helpful.”
West Nile Virus is rarely fatal in human beings, the city website adds.
"The risk of contracting the disease is very low, and less than 1 percent of those who get the virus become seriously ill," the city website states. "Those most susceptible to the potentially serious effects are the elderly, the very young and those with compromised immune systems. West Nile Virus isn’t transmissible from person to person."