The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) is investigating two presumptive cases of imported Zika virus in the state.
Both suspected cases are from individuals who recently traveled to a Caribbean country. Results from DHH lab tests performed on samples taken from the patients were positive for Zika virus, and samples have since been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmatory testing. Neither of the patients required hospitalization.
At this time, these two suspected cases are the only identified cases in Louisiana, but DHH is monitoring several additional individuals who have recently traveled to the same region. None of the individuals who traveled to the country are pregnant.
“We do not believe that Zika will spread from these suspected cases,” DHH State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard said. “Local transmission of Zika by mosquitoes is very unlikely, given the weather and environmental conditions. The chances of getting Zika from a mosquito in Louisiana are very small.”
Health officials say Zika virus is primarily transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus then spread the virus to other people through bites.
Ratard added that experts believe that Zika virus can be passed from an infected person to another person through mosquito bites only during the period that the viral infection is in the blood, which can last from several days to about a week. Although the two suspected cases in Louisiana are outside of this one-week window, officials have counseled both patients to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
The Department continues to work closely with the CDC, health care professionals and mosquito abatement programs throughout the state to prevent the spread of Zika. For more information about Zika virus, visit http://www.cdc.gov/zika/.