Officials release plan to combat the Zika virus in New Orleans

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[FILE] A generic photograph of mosquitos.

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – City officials announced a three-phase plan to fight the Zika virus in New Orleans as the summer months approach. Right now, there are no locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus in New Orleans. Four travel-related cases of Zika virus have been identified in Louisiana.

Click here to see the Zika Virus plan.

The plan outlines Zika virus management: no reported cases, travel-related cases, and local transmission. Within each phase, the components of mosquito control, public education & media outreach, and interagency coordination are addressed.

Officials stress the plan is a “living document” and is subjected to change.

The New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board has initiated its 2016 mosquito surveillance program which is monitoring the two mosquito species that are the primary carriers of Zika virus, the Yellow Fever mosquito and the Asian Tiger mosquito. Along with mosquito population surveillance, the board will eliminate mosquito breeding sites, spray trucks and airplane spraying will be used if needed.

About Zika Virus

Zika virus is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. One in five people infected may develop symptoms, which include fever, rash, joint pain, muscle pain, headache and red eyes. Symptoms usually begin 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The illness can cause mild symptoms lasting up to a week.

At this time, there is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus infection, nor any specific medicine to treat it.

If diagnosed with Zika virus, you are urged to protect yourself from mosquito bites. If a mosquito bites you, it can spread the virus and infect others.  ZIka can also be spread through sexual contact. If you have have been exposed to Zika you should use condoms or abstain from sexual activity for at least eight weeks. If infection is suspected, travel history should be shared with the healthcare provider.

The CDC recommends treating the symptoms by resting, drinking fluids and taking certain types of pain medicine. Click here for more information.

Zika virus can be spread from a mother to her fetus during pregnancy. Zika can cause a number of a number of health concerns during pregnancy including Microcephaly. Microcephaly is a birth defect that causes a baby’s head to be smaller as compared to other babies that are the same sex and age. Babies with Microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly. There is no treatment to correct Microcephaly.

CDC Travel Alert

On Jan. 15, 2016, the CDC issued a travel alert for people traveling to regions where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

Click here for a list of affected countries.

Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. If you must travel to one of the areas, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip. It is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women to use insect repellent.

Safety Tips

Protecting Yourself

  • Reduce mosquito exposure by limiting outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.
  • Use air-conditioning and make sure window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside.
  • If outside for long periods of time, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  • The CDC recommends using repellents containing EPA-registered active ingredients including DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon-eucalyptus.
  • When using repellent, always follow the recommendations on the product label.

Protecting Your Home and Business

  • Eliminate standing water around your home, where mosquitoes breed.
  • Remove trash and clutter, dispose of discarded tires and containers that can hold water. Turn over wading pools, buckets, trash cans, children’s toys or anything that could collect water.
  • Change water weekly in containers that cannot be removed, such as pet dishes or bird baths. Scrub the side of the containers each week to remove the eggs that have been deposited.
  • Rain barrels and other water collection devices must be screened and collected water should be used within one week.
  • Aerate ornamental pools, fountains and sugar kettles or stock them with fish.
  • Report illegal dumping, water leaks and unattended swimming pools and by calling 311.
  • Call 311 or email mosquitocontrol@nola.gov to report mosquito problems.

Tires are easily filled with water by rain and collect leaf litter, providing an ideal breeding site for mosquito larvae. Eliminating scrap tire dumps will eliminate a prolific mosquito habitat.

  • Residents can place up to four tires weekly, stacked curbside along with their household trash.
  • Tires in front of abandoned lots will not be collected; they must be moved in front of a residence with curbside collection.
  • Residents can also bring up to four tires to the City’s Recycling Drop-off Center on the second Saturday of each month, which is located at 2829 Elysian Fields Avenue between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.

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