Virginia department of health letterhead
July 12, 2016

Dear Colleague:

Thank you for participating in the recent Zika teleconferences that the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) held with members of the Virginia Association of Counties, Virginia Municipal League and Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions, along with the local health districts. The VDH team reports that the exchange of information and engaging discussions during the calls were very helpful to our efforts as we continue to revise and strengthen the Virginia State Zika Response Plan.

Key take-away points from the teleconference included:

  • Localities are authorized, by §32.1-187 et. seq. of the Code of Virginia, to establish Mosquito Control Districts which are provided with broad authority, including taxing authority, to control and eliminate mosquitos.
  • Targeted mosquito surveillance, which can include property and neighborhood inspection for mosquito habitats, elimination of container breeding habitats, trapping mosquitos for testing to determine their species and whether they are carrying the Zika virus, and dissemination of educational materials are important components of overall Zika prevention efforts.
  • Staff from the VDH Division of Environmental Epidemiology is available to assist localities with targeted mosquito surveillance. Localities should contact their local health districts to request this assistance.

Additional points discussed during the teleconference included:

  • To date all cases of Zika in Virginia have been associated with foreign travel and not the result of local virus transmission.
  • Should Zika virus be identified in mosquitos in Virginia, the applicable local health district will ensure that appropriate officials in the local jurisdiction are informed.
  • Zika virus infection is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito (Aedes species).
  • Asian Tiger mosquitos (Aedes albopictus) are the most common nuisance mosquito in Virginia and are present and common in every jurisdiction in the state.
  • Asian Tiger mosquitos have a short flight range and breed almost exclusively in man-made containers like flowerpots, birdbaths or other household containers.
  • It is critical that individuals and communities take efforts to eliminate mosquito breeding habitats {i.e. dumping containers, etc) to help reduce the mosquito population and curb any potential transmission of the Zika virus.

A detailed summary of the information provided during the call is attached for your information, as well as additional information concerning mosquito surveillance and control.

I strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself with Version 3.0 of the Virginia State Zika Response plan, which was posted to on July 1. Localities should use the information in the state plan to work with local and regional partners — including their local health district -- to develop their own local mosquito surveillance and control plan, in anticipation of federal funding decisions pending in Congress. A wide array of additional Zika prevention-related information is also found on the website.

Thank you again for your support, input and perspective as we strive to promote and protect the health of all Virginians.

Marissa J. Levine, MD, MPH, FAAFP
State Health Commissioner

For a copy of this letter, click here.

virginia department of health logo