Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is reminding pregnant women intending to travel to Zika-affected areas to exercise caution. This follows a report today that two infants with Zika-related microcephaly have been born in California to women who had Zika virus infection during pregnancy after spending time in such a location. In Los Angeles County, the risk of local transmission is low and no local transmission of Zika virus infection has occurred.
“Travel remains the biggest risk for residents who are concerned about Zika; that’s especially true for women who are pregnant and those who would like to get pregnant,” said LA County Interim Health Officer, Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH. “Everyone traveling to Zika-affected areas should take measures to prevent infection by mosquitoes to include avoiding outdoor exposure, using EPA-approved insect repellent, wearing loose-fitting clothing that covers arms and legs, and pre-treatment of clothing with permethrin, if possible.”
“Individuals who have traveled to Zika-affected areas should take steps to prevent the possible transmission of Zika to sexual partners, to include proper use of condoms,” he added.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a travel alert informing people traveling to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing to take strict precautions to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has launched a clinical trial of a vaccine candidate intended to prevent Zika virus infection. The early-stage study will evaluate the experimental vaccine’s safety and ability to generate an immune system response in healthy adults. The trial will take place at three study sites in the United States, including the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Scientists at NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center developed the investigational vaccine — called the NIAID Zika virus investigational DNA vaccine — earlier this year.
The CDC also recommends the following:
* Women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant should postpone travel to Zika-affected areas.
* Pregnant women who do travel should talk with their health care provider first and ensure that precautions against mosquito bites are taken.
* EPA-approved insect repellents are safe for use by pregnant women, when used according to the product label.
* Providers who are caring for pregnant women with a history of Zika virus infection should consider additional ultrasounds.
While local transmission has not occurred in Los Angeles County, the Aedes mosquito that can transmit Zika is present in the San Gabriel Valley and in the eastern part of the County. This species of mosquito can also transmit dengue fever and chikungunya infection. People can reduce the spread of Aedes mosquitoes by eliminating sites around their homes where mosquitoes may breed by getting rid of containers and any other sites where water may collect and mosquitoes lay their eggs.
To date, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has identified a total of 24 cases of Zika virus infection in Los Angeles County residents. All cases travelled to areas of ongoing Zika virus transmission with the majority of cases traveling to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
Public Health will provide updates if new cases of Zika virus infection are confirmed. Medical providers with questions regarding Zika virus are encouraged to contact Public Health. For more information, please visit www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.
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/LAPublicHealth, facebook.com/LAPublicHealth, and youtube.com/LAPublicHealth.