Zika sparks new law in St. Bernard

Zika sparks new law in St. Bernard

CHALMETTE, LA (WVUE) - The prediction that mosquito-borne Zika in Louisiana is not just a possibility, but a very likely reality, has several parishes preparing for the virus.

In the medical community, Zika is a huge concern across the Gulf South, and the spread is something that's been anticipated.

"As the number of people who are infected grow in the community, the greater the likelihood for infections and transmissions," said Dr. Peter Deblieux, chief medical officer at University Medical Center.

Deblieux said it's only a matter of time before mosquitoes begin transmitting Zika in Louisiana.

"When you understand the amount of travel between Central and South America and New Orleans, undoubtedly there is someone in our community who has Zika and if that individual is bitten by a mosquito, who in turn bites another individual, you can transmit it in that fashion," he said.

It's why St. Bernard Parish is beefing up its mosquito abatement program, purchasing two year's worth of chemicals for spraying and even securing different chemicals to ensure spraying can happen as much as possible.

"We have a lot of mosquitoes here in St. Bernard parish, we have a lot of water around, so we're always doing [spraying], but we have additional chemicals, which according to the rules and requirements, you can spray extra as long as it's not the same chemical within 72 hours," St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis said.

McInnis said the council has already taken action to give abatement employees more access to the parish, creating an ordinance that allows them to go onto private property to spray or empty standing water.

"If citizens are 100 percent compliant, we still have property that we have to go on and make sure we tip some of these things over, and that's why we passed this ordinance, so we could go on private property in case we have some of those type of problems to take care of," McInnis said.

So far, nine people in the New Orleans area are reported to have Zika, contracted abroad, but a local transmission from mosquitoes has not been reported.

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