NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced Wednesday the city will allocate an additional $500,000 to more aggressively fight the two mosquito species here in Louisiana that can spread the Zika virus.
"In simple language, this is for much more aggressive spraying in and around New Orleans," said Landrieu. "We consider this to be a very serious threat not something to panic about but something to be prepared for."
There are no locally transmitted cases in Louisiana right now but there have been 17 travel-related cases in the state. Nine of those have been in the New Orleans region. Both state and city leaders say there's a plan in place, should there be a local outbreak.
"In the event that we have a cluster of locally transmitted cases we will intensify surveillance for human cases in those neighborhoods by conducting door to door outreach campaigns and alerting local clinicians. The geographic boundaries determining the areas of Zika transmission will be set by our state epidemiologist, state entomologist in conjunction with the New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board. In addition, we would encourage pregnant women to be tested if they are living in an area where there is local Zika transmission," said Assistant State Health Officer for the Louisiana Office of Public Health, Parham Jaberi, M.D.
"Once we get notification from the state, were usually out, actually that same day, so, that would include door to door education, turning over containers and then of course we have to do the insecticide part as well, so, either a truck, an airplane, that would be sent out that same day and really to break epidemics we are looking at treatment every three days," said Director of the New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board, Claudia Riegel, Ph.D.
But, city leaders says they can't combat the virus alone. They're asking for your help.
"We need everyone to check their yards for standing water, the sources should be dumped, drained, cleaned and removed to decrease the mosquito breeding population," said Interim Director of the New Orleans Health Department, Jeff Elder, M.D. "Everyone should use insect repellent or wear long sleeves to protect themselves from mosquitoes while out and about."
And, for anyone traveling to an area with Zika transmission. "Wear insect repellant for 14 days after you return from your travel, use condoms and visit your doctor if you have any symptoms or develop any concerns regarding Zika," said Elder.
"Our mentality should not be a matter of if we will face a locally transmitted case but rather when because it is likely that we are going to have one," said Landrieu.
If you need any help clearing anything out from around your home or you need to report a mosquito problem you can call the city at 311.