The Los Angeles Department of Public Health is partnering with county health officials and a humanitarian organization to help spread the word about Zika.
The disease has captured the news cycle in Miami, Florida, where it continues to spread, but there have also been 67 cases in L.A. just this year. Together with vector control districts and the organization Tzu Chi, the Department of Public Health plans to train volunteers to educate their communities and "Keep Zika Out."
All cases of Zika found in L.A. so far have been in individuals who have traveled to countries where the disease is prevalent. Health officials have not identified any cases in which an individual contracted the disease through a bite from an infected mosquito in L.A. However, L.A. County is home to a few species of mosquitoes that are capable of carrying the virus.
If an individual returns from another country with the Zika virus in their system and is bitten by a mosquito in Los Angeles, that mosquito could then become a carrier. When that mosquito bites another human, they could transmit the virus, starting a cycle of "local transmission," said Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, Director of the Acute Communicable Disease Control program.
According to public health officials, this has not happened yet in L.A.—no mosquitoes have been identified as carrying the virus. But travelers are cautioned to protect themselves from mosquito bites after returning to the U.S.
The new campaign also offers several other tips on how Angelenos can minimize their risk. High on that list is reducing mosquito numbers around the home by limiting areas where the insect can reproduce.
Mosquitoes that can carry the Zika virus are able to breed in even small amounts of standing water. Residents are advised to drain or get rid of any containers that may hold water, including empty bottles, old tires, even flowerpots.
The Department of Public Health is holding a Zika prevention workshop to train volunteers on Saturday, Sept. 24 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Dharma Seal Temple in Rosemead. Those interested can RSVP here.