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Severity of Zika Threat Still Open for Debate—US Health Officials Not Taking Any Chances

Sharlot went on to say that the state’s action plan is currently reviewed every two weeks, although that may change should a localized outbreak occur. Mosquito control efforts in the state are ongoing, as they are every year during mosquito season, but they have not been stepped up specifically because of Zika, according to media reports. The state does not currently have a budget in place for Zika-related mosquito control; at present, the spraying of pesticides and other measures are coordinated at the local level.
Similarly, officials in Georgia said that while the state has not, as yet, “experienced any local transmission of Zika, vector surveillance has confirmed the presence of both Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitos there,” according to Nancy Nydam, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Health (GPDH). “The Aedes aegypti historically had been found in two locations in Georgia—the coastal area around Savannah/Chatham County and Columbus,” she added. “Surveillance to date indicates only a few aegypti in one location, in one trap near Columbus. Aedes albopictus are found throughout Georgia, but so far this year, their numbers have been lower compared to previous years. We are being vigilant and monitoring the mosquito population carefully, but are hopeful the situation will stay relatively unchanged. The fewer mosquitoes we have that are capable of transmitting Zika, the lower the risk for local transmission.”
Nydam went to say that should local transmission occur within the state, GDPH officials plan to follow current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance with regard to epidemiological surveillance, testing, mosquito control, and community education.
The CDC is not currently on the ground in Georgia or Mississippi, but has been assisting Florida authorities for weeks. According to statement released by the agency on August 24, the CDC “has provided $35 million in federal funds for Zika and emergency response, including public health and emergency preparedness funds… that can be used to purchase items for Zika prevention kits. CDC also has provided 10,000 bottles of DEET mosquito repellent for the kits, as well as support for Zika lab testing. CDC’s Fort Collins laboratory is also testing specimens from pregnant women for the Florida Department of Health.”
Brian P. Dunleavy is a medical writer and editor based in New York. His work has appeared in numerous healthcare-related publications. He is the former editor of Infectious Disease Special Edition. 
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