Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) has reported one confirmed case of Zika virus infection in an adolescent girl, who had traveled to El Salvador in late November 2015. She has recovered. Public Health continues its surveillance to identify any potentially infected travelers returning to the County. Because the Aedes species mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, including the US, it is anticipated that outbreaks will spread to new countries.

Aedes aegypti/CDC
Aedes aegypti/CDC

“Zika is one of several mosquito-borne diseases that may infect travelers, including chikungunya and dengue,” said Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH, Interim Health Officer for Los Angeles County. “Avoid mosquito bites, especially when visiting places known to have these diseases. Use approved EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] bug spray and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants or clothing specially treated to avoid mosquito bites. Pregnant women should avoid travel to the areas where the outbreak is ongoing, if possible.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel alert informing people traveling to countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing to take strict precautions to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes and recommend that pregnant women consider postponing their travel. Zika virus may cause birth defects in pregnant women. Pregnant women who do travel should talk with their health care provider first and ensure that precautions against mosquito bites are taken including using an EPA registered insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants when outside, and staying in a room with air conditioning or screens. EPA registered insect repellents are safe for use by pregnant women, when used according to the product label.

No transmission of Zika virus infection has occurred in Los Angeles County, California or in any other state. However, Aedes mosquitoes, the species of mosquito that can transmit Zika, are present in the San Gabriel Valley and in the Eastern part of the county. At this time, local transmission is unlikely. It would require an Aedes mosquito biting a Zika infected person and then biting others.

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.