Press Release

Rep. Cuellar, City of Laredo Announce Arrival of CDC-Contracted Health Professionals in Laredo to Monitor Zika Virus Detection and Response

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LAREDO, Texas, July 19, 2016 | Rafael Benavides ((956) 725-0639) | comments

Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28), Mayor Pete Saenz and the City of Laredo Health Department today announced the creation of a new office of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Laredo, with three CDC-contracted public health professionals.

At Congressman Cuellar’s request, the CDC has contracted with Caduceus Healthcare to hire a contracted team of public health professionals that will work with the City of Laredo Health Department and other health professionals from Laredo to Brownsville, focusing on increasing surveillance, prevention, preparation and education to combat the Zika virus.

The Zika virus has infected many people in Latin America, including Mexico, but has not yet been detected in domestic mosquitos in the U.S., and no cases of Zika have been reported in Laredo or Webb County at this time.

“It is important that we dedicate resources to prevent further spread of the Zika virus, which can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus and can cause certain birth defects,” said Congressman Henry Cuellar. “Currently, outbreaks are occurring in many countries and territories, including Mexico, and public health officials warn that the virus may make its way to U.S. border states this summer, which is why I personally invited the CDC to come to Laredo to monitor the situation and work with the City of Laredo to create detection and response plans for our community. I thank the CDC, Mayor Saenz and the City of Laredo Health Department for their support towards this mission.”

This project will ensure that specially-trained public health professionals will be placed in Laredo through Caduceus Healthcare, with additional support from the CDC, to work directly with the City of Laredo Health Department to enhance surveillance and detection of Zika on the border.

The City of Laredo Health Department and CDC will provide technical monitoring for the public health team to enhance a response to Zika along this international border, develop plans to respond to Zika and analyze threat and risk of Zika in the Laredo sector.

The CDC and the City of Laredo Health Department will also be working to expand this project by partnering with both American and Mexican universities, such as la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas, to increase surveillance and testing.

Currently, the City of Laredo is working with the CDC, in partnership with the University of Arizona and Texas Tech University, on testing a smartphone app for self-reporting by the public for signs and symptoms for Zika.

“Information is empowering, especially when it comes to issues of health and prevention of viruses and diseases,” said Mayor Saenz. “This virus, while relatively mild and preventable, does pose a threat given not only our geographical location, but also, the flow of international travelers through our community. I want to express my most sincerest gratitude to Cong. Cuellar for bringing the CDC and other health professionals to work with our City of Laredo Health Department and other partner agencies, for monitoring, prevention and, if necessary, response to the Zika virus.”

“We look forward to working with the CDC and Caduceus Healthcare to further enhance our local actions to protect women and children against Zika,” said City of Laredo Health Department Director Hector F. Gonzalez, MD, MPH.

Congressman Henry Cuellar and contractors working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the City of Laredo, Texas A&M International University (TAMIU), La Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas announce the presence of contractors to support CDC work in Laredo, Texas, on Tuesday morning at the City of Laredo Council Chambers.

Pictured from left to right are Keila Castillo, epidemiologist contractor with the CDC; Sarah Pinto, health educator contractor with the CDC; Manuel Ramirez, public health advisor contractor with the CDC; Dr. María de la Luz Vázquez from La Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas; Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz; Dr. Glenda C. Walker, Dean of the Dr. F.M. Canseco School of Nursing at TAMIU; Congressman Henry Cuellar; Laredo City Manager Jesus Olivares; and Hector F. Gonzalez, MD, MPH, City of Laredo Health Department Director.
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