Parishes prepared for Zika outbreak, say be proactive

Parishes prepared for Zika outbreak, say be proactive

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Parish leaders in Orleans and Jefferson outlined their plans to combat the Zika virus in the metro area on Wednesday.

At separate news conferences, officials shared how they are preparing in the event of an outbreak.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu says it's just a matter of when Louisiana sees a local Zika outbreak.

He announced the city will allocate an additional $500,000 to more aggressively fight the two mosquito species that can spread the Zika virus.
He called a serious public threat, but said the public should not panic.

There are no locally transmitted Zika cases in Louisiana right now, but there have been 17 travel-related cases in the state, and nine have been in the New Orleans region.

City and state leaders say they will now be spraying more and will also be doing more door to door public outreach to educate neighbors about how they can better protect themselves.

"A couple of months ago, I went to congress and testified in support of President Obama's request for $1.8 billion dollars for emergency funding to respond to the Zika threat that is threatening not only some areas in the United States, but also south and central America and other parts of the world," Landrieu said. "We consider this to be a very serious threat. not something to panic about, but something to be prepared for."

City and state leaders say they have a plan in place should there be a local Zika outbreak here.

The mosquito that can carry the Zika virus is also being found throughout Jefferson Parish.

There are preventive measures and tests going on and officials are raising awareness there as well.

Mosquito Control Services is the company contracted by Jefferson Parish to spray for mosquitoes.

They have been ramping up since January for the Zika virus. It's the yellow fever mosquito that's been the transmitter of the virus.

As a preventative measure, mosquito control services has tested hundreds of sites across the parish. They have found the yellow fever mosquitoes at more than half of those sites.

They are spraying through neighborhoods and also spot spraying where the mosquitoes are being found. The yellow fever mosquito does not typically live in marshes and wooded areas. They live in backyards and tend to only fly about a thousand feet.

Officials are asking everyone to pitch in and clear their property of standing water where mosquitoes may be breeding.

"We are asking people to help us by helping themselves and eliminate those mosquitoes when they're around the yard and wear repellants. The unique thing about those mosquitoes is it's not one that just bites at night," advised Steven Pavlovich of Mosquito Control Services. "It can bite in shaded areas in the backyard and tends to not be as aggressive as the night mosquitoes we have but it is of concern because it's not biting you when you're just sitting there not doing anything. Especially if it bites you on your leg, it's not a large mosquito and as a result of that you wouldn't even know you were bitten by the mosquito."

They say it is about being proactive. Mosquito Control Services is also contracted to do work in other parishes like St. John, St. James and St. Charles. Testing is also happening in those areas.

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