LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) reminds travelers to protect themselves from mosquitoes during the outbreak of Zika virus disease. The outbreak is ongoing in 21 countries, including Latin America, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. Zika is a reportable disease and local physicians are encouraged to contact Public Health to report any possible Zika patients for further assessment.
To date, there has been one confirmed case of Zika virus infection in an adolescent girl, who had traveled to El Salvador in late November 2015. She has recovered. Public Health continues its surveillance to identify any potentially infected travelers returning to the County. Because the Aedes species mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, including the US, it is anticipated that outbreaks will spread to new countries.
“Zika is one of several mosquito-borne diseases that may infect travelers, including chikungunya and dengue,” said Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH, Interim Health Officer for Los Angeles County. "Avoid mosquito bites, especially when visiting places known to have these diseases. Use approved EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] bug spray and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants or clothing specially treated to avoid mosquito bites. Pregnant women should avoid travel to the areas where the outbreak is ongoing, if possible.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel alert informing people traveling to countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing to take strict precautions to prevent being bitten by mosquitos and recommend that pregnant women consider postponing their travel. Zika virus may cause birth defects in pregnant women. Pregnant women who do travel should talk with their health care provider first and ensure that precautions against mosquito bites are taken including using an EPA registered insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants when outside, and staying in a room with air conditioning or screens. EPA registered insect repellents are safe for use by pregnant women, when used according to the product label.
No transmission of Zika virus infection has occurred in Los Angeles County, California or in any other state. However, Aedes mosquitos, the species of mosquito that can transmit Zika, are present in the San Gabriel Valley and in the Eastern part of the county. At this time, local transmission is unlikely. It would require an Aedes mosquito biting a Zika infected person and then biting others.
People can reduce the spread of Aedes mosquitos by eliminating sites around their homes where mosquitos may breed by getting rid of containers and any other sites where water may collect and mosquitos lay their eggs.
As of January 22, 2016, Zika affected countries include Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Suriname, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Updates of affected countries and traveler health notices are posted on the CDC website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/.
For more information on the Zika virus visit: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/VectorZika.htm. It includes a Questions and Answers document, a poster with information for travelers, and links to information from the CDC and the California Department of Public Health.
The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises nearly 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $900 million. To learn more about the LA County Department of Public Health and the work they do, visit PublicHealth .LACounty.gov/, and follow Public Health on social media at twitter.com/LAP ublicHealth, facebook.c om/LAPublicHealth, and youtub e.com/LAPublicHealth.