Health experts will share information about the Zika Virus with the public during a 5:30 PM meeting at LSU Health New Orleans Human Development Center. A panel of experts will discuss where the virus is, where it’s expected to go, and other important information. Dr. Robert Maupin with LSU Health New Orleans says the CDC has released a report showing the number of Zika cases in the US, but local transmission has yet to occur in the states.
“It appears to be approximately 280 cases of Zika identified amongst pregnant women in either US territories or mainland US,” Maupin said.
Health leaders want people who live in the southeastern states to be as prepared as possible for a potential Zika outbreak. Maupin says the biggest risk for contracting the disease right now is still in countries where it is prevalent, such as South America and the Caribbean. He says once travelers return home they can spread the disease, and at the meeting they will address how to avoid spreading the virus.
“If they return to their home communities, there is a risk of sexual transmission as well, principally from men to women based on the current evidence,” Maupin said.
Maupin says most people with Zika do not show symptoms at all, but those that do will see symptoms similar to the flu. At tonight’s meeting, the panel will inform the public about testing recommendations and how to recognize Zika symptoms. He says pregnant women, in particular, need to take precautions to prevent getting the disease because it can lead to serious birth defects.
“In that particular instance we’ve seen clear evidence from the cases that have been reported in Brazil that there’s a risk for serious neurological fetal birth defects,” Maupin said.
Faculty experts at LSU Health New Orleans and state health secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee will be on the panel at the meeting, and they will provide essential information about the virus and share types of preparation that are underway at the state level.