State health officials offer tips to prevent Zika virus transmission
BATON ROUGE - Officials with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals have developed a plan to protect the public should a Zika outbreak occur in the state.
The plan is to reduce mosquito populations and mobilize against transmission of the virus.
Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary for DHH, said that the state has the emergency management, public health and health care infrastructures to respond if Zika transmission begin to occur,
“Louisiana is home to the particular mosquitoes 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 mosquitoes biting individuals returning from areas where Zika is active and to be prepared to respond to any transmissions that might occur if that happens,” she said.
Gee said that she is especially concerned with 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 live in an area with active Zika virus transmission should talk to their health care 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 mosquitoes 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.