BATON ROUGE - Today, Governor John Bel Edwards participated in a White House briefing regarding ongoing preparedness and response efforts related to the Zika virus. Participating in the call were Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Tom Frieden. Louisiana has been identified as a high-risk state for the spread of the Zika virus.

“As a warm weather state where the mosquito that carries this disease has been found in large numbers, Louisiana is at a high risk for a serious outbreak of this virus, and it is of the utmost importance that we stay on top of this concern to ensure the safety and well-being of our citizens,” said Gov. Edwards. “I am receiving regular briefings regarding our ongoing preparedness and response efforts, and all of our partners at the state level will be prepared should an emergency response become necessary. Additionally, we will make safety and preventative information relevant to the public readily available.”

The Zika virus can cause severe birth defects if women become infected during pregnancy. It is spread through the bite of an infected Aedes albopictus or Aedes aegypti mosquito. State surveillance has determined that the Aedes albopictus mosquito is found in significant numbers in the highly populated parishes of Jefferson, Orleans, and St. Bernard, as well as in parts of Plaquemines, St. Charles, and St. Tammany.

In May, Gov. Edwards sent a letter to the Louisiana Congressional Delegation urging them to approve additional funding for Zika preparedness in Louisiana. Information on the letter is available by clicking here.