New Orleans, Louisiana Zika virus response

In 2016, when the risk of Zika virus in the United States became higher, Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans, Louisiana brought together public and private partners to proactively manage those risks and protect the city’s most vulnerable residents. By activating the local public health department, the Board of mosquito control, local physicians, environmental experts, and community members, the government was able to create a comprehensive Zika response plan to protect the public, especially pregnant women. In the first phase, partners educated the public on risks and mitigation strategies, especially healthcare providers and facilities. The city also stepped up vector control to reduce risk and surveillance of mosquito populations to ensure effectiveness. This combination of efforts was intended to ensure that Phases 2 and 3 of the Plan (activated in the case of reported cases of Zika) would be delayed or unnecessary due to preventive measures. By focusing education efforts for the public and healthcare entities on the risk to the most vulnerable subgroup of residents, the partners could ensure that pregnant women would be well-protected. The efforts were funded by general public health funding streams.

New Orleans’ Comprehensive Zika Virus Plan was a proactive plan. When this plan was launched in April 2016, no local cases were reported at the time in the City of New Orleans. However, given that the city has been combating mosquitoes for a long time, the city decided to take preventive measures to control the virus vector. The implementation of this plan relied on interagency coordination, which included the New Orleans Health Department, New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and the Louisiana Mosquito Control Association. In addition to the cross-governmental collaboration, the city also recruited experts, politicians and others to protect citizens. 

Three phases of this plan corresponded to three different scenarios: where the city had no reported cases, travel-related cases only, and locally-acquired cases. Phase 1 focused on educating the public and building New Orlean’s capacity. The city set up a website for information about Zika virus, and hosted seminars for healthcare providers and facilities to learn about the knowledge of Zika. Phase 2 was activated when the first imported zika case was confirmed in New Orleans. The city would then start code enforcement and other measures to prevent mosquito bites. Once local transmission was reported, Phase 3 was triggered. The team, which was recruited beforehand, would be in place to provide educational activities and take further actions to remove standing water, which attracts mosquitoes and provides their breeding ground. 

This case study demonstrates that interagency coordination and collaboration with multiple experts and stakeholders through a multiple phases plan can help the local government get prepared for helping the community build resilience particularly in the time of emergency. 


Publication Date: April 2016

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