Officials with the Louisiana Department of Health have developed a plan to protect the public should an outbreak of Zika virus occur in the state. The multi-part plan is designed to reduce mosquito populations and mobilize against transmission of Zika virus if an outbreak does occur.
Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary for LDH, said mosquito-borne transmissions of Zika in popular destinations in the Caribbean demonstrate the risks to Louisianans posed by this public health threat. Gee also stated that Louisiana has the emergency management, public health and health care infrastructures to respond if Zika transmissions begin to occur in Louisiana.
"Louisiana is home to the particular mosquitos that can transmit the Zika virus if they become infected with it." Gee said. "With mosquito season well on its way, our goal is to mitigate the risk of our own mosquitos biting individuals returning from areas where Zika is active and to be prepared to respond to any transmissions that might occur if that happens."
As an obstetrics and gynecology physician, Gee is especially concerned about the spread of Zika from a pregnant woman to her fetus, given the conclusions reached by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the effects of infection on babies.
"The CDC has stated that there is a clear link between Zika virus and microcephaly in babies. I strongly recommend that pregnant women take all appropriate precautions regarding Zika virus to prevent this serious birth defect." Gee said.
Precautions and Prevention:
Current CDC guidance states that women and men who desire pregnancy and reside in an area with active Zika virus transmission should talk to their healthcare provider and strictly follow steps to prevent both mosquito bites and sexual transmission of the virus.
Pregnant women or women who could be pregnant should consider postponing any travel to any area where Zika virus is spreading and talk to their health care provider if they must do so. They should take strict precautions to prevent mosquito bites during their stay in areas where active transmission is occurring.
Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. Louisianans should take precautions against mosquito bites to prevent any possible transmissions of both Zika and other mosquito-borne infections, especially during summer months when mosquitos are most active. Recommended precautions include wearing long sleeves and pants, keeping window and door screens in good repair, using EPA-registered insect repellants and removing standing water from around homes and workplaces.
To date, four cases of Zika virus have been confirmed in Louisiana residents who traveled to Caribbean and South American countries, but no cases of Zika virus transmitted locally by mosquito have been detected. More information on Zika virus is available from the CDC at www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html.
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents.To learn more about LDH, visit www.dhh.la.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH's Twitter account and Facebook.