Governor Abbott And Dr. Hellerstedt Call On Local Officials To Take Action Against Zika

May 4, 2017 | Austin, Texas

Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt today sent a letter to County Judges and Mayors across the state asking for their continued assistance in combatting locally-transmitted Zika viruses in Texas. In the letter, the Governor and Commissioner laid out specific actions that can be taken by Texans to help prevent the spread of the virus, and reinforced the commitment of the DSHS to help coordinate response efforts and provide technical expertise to localities in their response to Zika.

“With the ongoing risk posed by Zika, we are requesting your continued assistance in delaying locally transmitted Zika virus in Texas this year by promoting precautions to prevent mosquito bites and taking action to reduce mosquito breeding grounds in your communities,” reads the letter. “We expect local mosquito transmission to resume and persist as the weather warms and mosquito activity increases. The Texas Department of State Health Services stands ready to provide technical expertise as you prepare your locality’s Zika response plans or prepare to conduct community engagement efforts,” the letter continues.

In addition to the letter, Governor Abbott and Commissioner Hellerstedt will be hosting a Zika prevention roundtable with elected leaders and health officials on Friday, May 5th, at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. The roundtable will allow local leaders to discuss prevention efforts as the state prepares to enter the height of mosquito season. The roundtable will be open to the press, and details will be sent this afternoon. 

The letter calls on local leaders to organize Zika prevention measures in their community:

Coordinate community clean-up of areas known for having items or areas that collect water and allow mosquitos to breed around human habitation.
Host or ask volunteers to host community events for stakeholders to answer Zika questions, conduct clean-up demonstrations, and also provide educational materials.
Coordinate neighborhood outreach about precautions individuals can take to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites.
Initiate or enhance monitoring and surveillance of mosquito activity and accelerate mosquito abatement efforts, including use of larvicide.

The letter also provides important tips for individuals to protect themselves from mosquitoes at home, work, and during outdoor recreation or traveling:

Precautions include consistently using mosquito repellent when outside, wearing long sleeves and pants, and using air conditioning or making sure window screens will keep mosquitoes out of the home and other indoor environments.
Pregnant women should follow CDC advice to avoid traveling to locations with sustained local Zika transmission, including all areas of Mexico.
Pregnant women and their sexual partners who have traveled to those areas should use condoms or avoid sexual contact during the course of the pregnancy.
Texans statewide should pick up trash and dump out containers that could hold standing water in and around their homes, schools, outdoor recreation venues and businesses to deny mosquitoes a place to lay their eggs.

View the full letter.

For additional information and materials in please visit the DSHS website dedicated to Zika,