Heightened Marshallese population raises Zika concern - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Heightened Marshallese population raises Zika concern

(Source: KAIT) (Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT) (Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT) (Source: KAIT)
GREENE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) -

A local OEM coordinator recently went to a Zika seminar and is now educating a certain population around the area about the virus.

Erik Wright, Greene County's Office of Emergency Management coordinator, said he has learned that more Marshallese are in Northeast Arkansas coming from the Marshall Islands.

Wright said that concerns the state's health department because the Marshall Islands are a hot zone for the Zika virus.

What I took from this meeting is to target our Marshallese Islander population and to push some critical and safety information out to them, Wright said. We have a growing, robust Marshallese population in Greene County. 

He said in theory, local Marshallese could carry the virus, get bit by a mosquito able to transmit it, and then give it to someone else.

We just want to make sure that they are aware of the virus and how they can protect themselves, Wright said. I dont want them to be an isolated community within our community, we want to make them feel welcome, and thats why I want this to be a community effort.  

Wright said he also does not want the community to feel leery of the Marshallese population, even saying the type of mosquito that carries the virus has not been found in Arkansas, yet.

I dont want to be fear mongering, he said. These folks arent necessarily carrying the virus. Its just an outreach and educational program right now.

Wright knocked on doors Wednesday afternoon and came in contact with a Marshallese family in Paragould.

He gave out flyers about Zika that include symptoms and how to protect and stop the spread.

Wright also mentioned if anyone can speak Marshallese language and would like to be a translator, you can contact the Greene County OEM Department at 870-239-6300.

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