Louisiana's top health official doesn't mince words when discussing the Zika virus threat to the state.
"I'm very worried about it," Department of Health Secretary Rebekah Gee told Gannett Louisiana this week.
Louisiana's hot, wet climate provides a breeding spa for mosquitoes of many kinds, including the little aedes aegypti, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, which is considered the prime carrier for the disease. The aedes aegypti isn't prevalent throughout Louisiana, but is concentrated in areas south of Lake Ponchartrain. It breeds and lives near homes and and prefers to feed on people.
"The areas we're focused on for the aedes aegypti are Plaquemine, St. Bernard, Orleans, Jefferson, St. Charles and a small area of St. Tammany where there are some canals," said Kyle Moppert, the state entomologist.
Dr. Frank Welch, LDH's medical director for community preparedness, said the state has already identified four human cases of Zika in Louisiana, almost certainly contracted abroad before being brought home by the unsuspecting travelers.
"The real danger is when Zika spreads from person to person," he said. "We're preparing to do everything we can to avoid that and to educate the public on what it can do to avoid it."