Photo by James Gathany, courtesy CDC

Photo by James Gathany, courtesy CDC

Louisiana public health workers began preparations for Zika long before the virus hit U.S. shores. The ongoing goal — and hope — is to keep the state in prevention mode, instead of response.

“We’re very aware that we have all the ingredients for local transmission of Zika,” Frank Welch, MD, MSPH, medical director for community preparedness at the Louisiana Department of Health, told The Nation’s Health. “And responding to a locally acquired case would be a real challenge for the state of Louisiana.”

Like other states at high risk for Zika, Louisiana is readying for another summer of intensive outreach, surveillance, testing and intervention, all in the hope that public health workers can keep local transmission of the mosquito-borne virus from gaining a foothold in their communities. Across the country, Zika activities are evolving and growing stronger with help from the $1.1 billion in emergency funds that Congress approved last fall after months of delay, but the disease remains a serious threat and challenge for already-strained public health systems, especially in states home to the virus’ main vector, the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

To continue reading this story from the May 2017 issue of The Nation’s Health, visit the newspaper online