Federal health officials in the United States are planning to send rapid-response teams to communities in the mainland and Hawaii when the mosquito-borne Zika virus starts transmitting locally.

Even if a community has only one confirmed case of local Zika virus transmission, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will send specialists to help state and local officials as part of the federal agency's multilevel response plan to fight Zika.

The CDC's rapid-response teams are made up of experts who can help monitor the cases, perform lab tests on infected individuals and increase mosquito control initiatives along with local and state authorities.

The rapid-response teams will also help in investigating the local transmissions, minimizing its spread and communicating with the public.

In a video conference last Thursday, CDC Director Tom Frieden, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell and Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Amy Pope talked to the governors and local officials from the U.S. states with the highest local Zika transmission risks.

These states included Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and Arizona. Officials from Los Angeles county, California, Hawaii and Georgia also joined the video conference.

"We're thinking through with them all the things that may happen when there is that first suspected case," said Frieden in a post-videoconference interview.

The Zika virus is transmitted from insect to human hosts from the bites of the infected Aedes aegypti mosquitos, which are found throughout the southern part of the country. These mosquitos are also found in several parts of the Midwest and the Southwest.

While U.S. health officials are expecting local Zika virus transmission due to the prevalence of the virus' primary carriers, they do not expect an outbreak of cases similar to the ones reported in South America, Puerto Rico and some Caribbean countries.

Frieden added that unlike in Zika-affected countries, Americans in general live in densely crowded surroundings. They also have window screens and more air-conditioning.

He expressed that while local Zika virus transmission will not become "a very common problem," they believe that it can become a "very high-profile problem."

Based on their previous experiences with dengue and chikungunya, which are also viruses spread by the same mosquito species, communities in the United States will more likely have several single cases scattered around rather than wide-range outbreaks of clusters of local transmission.

"No one wants to be that place. But if you had a cluster, then the public has a right to know about ongoing transmission," added Frieden, stressing that pregnant women may opt to avoid that area due to complication risks.

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