Zika fears grow after Florida becomes first state with locally transmitted case

Zika fears grow after Florida becomes first state with locally transmitted case

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Florida is the first state in the nation to have local transmission of the Zika virus. As investigators continue to look into the case, several Gulf States, including Louisiana are concerned about the threat.

While investigators believe the case may be isolated to one small area in Florida, officials with the Louisiana Department of Health say they are not taking any chances.

"What that has made us do is go back and redouble our efforts with prevention, education of the community and ensuring we're ready in case there's a case of local transmission here in Louisiana," said Dr. Parham Jaberi.

Local experts say they do not expect the mosquitoes carrying the virus in Florida to make it to Louisiana because the insect cannot fly very far. Instead, the biggest concern is people who travel to countries where Zika is prevalent, get bitten and return home.

"Those mosquitoes are very short distance fliers and they only live about two weeks when it's really hot so there's not going to make it over here but like I said we've got a species here in East Baton Rouge Parish - the Asian Tiger mosquito that has been implicated as a vector in other areas," said Randy Vaeth, spokesman for EBR mosquito abatement.

Vaeth said the department sprays roughly 1,200 to 1,300 homes each year. As for how residents can prepare, he suggests they use plenty of mosquito repellent, wear long sleeves and eliminate any standing water around their homes.

He said if someone does get bitten and they do not feel well afterward to see a doctor immediately.

"If they're sick they need to go to their physician so that could get reported," Vaeth said. "That will come to us from the health department and that way we can go out and do some potential surveillance around that area, try to collect mosquitoes and actually have them tested."

Vaeth said it is important that residents not panic but be prepared.

"People should be doing the same things for Zika as they are doing for West Nile or should be doing. If you're outside, please
take those precautions."

Vaeth encourages anyone with questions to contact the office. Click here to visit the department's website.

The State Department of Health today also announced one more case of Zika in Louisiana.

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