RICHMOND, Va. - Virginia will begin testing mosquitoes in Hampton Roads for the Zika virus.
State health officials announced new efforts Wednesday to control the spread of Zika, which is known to cause birth defects.
Virginia's Department of General Services' Division of Laboratory Services sent collection kits to ten mosquito control jurisdictions in southeastern and central Virginia last week to begin the testing.
DCLS has been testing for Zika in humans since April. Thirty-eight cases have been confirmed in Virginia, all involving people who traveled to foreign countries.
"This testing provides important information to Virginia public health officials as they take the necessary measures to prevent illness in our citizens and the unborn," said Dr. Denise Toney, DCLS Director.
Zika has not been detected in mosquitoes in Virginia, but State Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa Levine expects that to change. "I think it`s just a matter of time before the Zika virus is in mosquitos in Virginia, but I don`t know exactly when that would happen. Collectively we can prevent that from happening and if it does happen we can mitigate, we can minimize the impact," she said at an afternoon news conference.
Levine also warned that Zika can be spread through sexual intercourse, and added, "Prevention is key when dealing with public health risks like Zika virus disease because we have no specific treatment and no vaccine at this time."
For more information about Zika virus visit www.ZikaVa.org.