Rapid Response Teams Help States Combat Zika

When states reach out for help, a CDC Emergency Response Team (CERT) stands ready to answer the call. A CERT is a highly trained group of public health experts who can travel anywhere in the country to meet the unique needs of requesting states. It is a flexible team that can give as much – or as little – support as requested, whether it’s sending epidemiologists, laboratorians, and vector control experts into the field or providing answers from headquarters.

Janet McAllister, an entomologist with CDC’s Arboviral Diseases Branch in Ft. Collins, Colorado, traveled to Florida as part of a CERT. As a vector control specialist, McAllister’s work in Florida involved monitoring daily surveillance from mosquito traps. McAllister offered scientific expertise, working closely with state and local experts to make decisions about the best ways to reduce mosquito populations.

Whenever she saw unusually high numbers of mosquitoes in a trap, McAllister went to the field to find out why. “In investigating one particular trap,” she says, “we traced the source to a neighbor’s bromeliad garden behind the fence.”

“Everyone is watching what’s happening in other locations regarding Zika,” says Maleeka Glover, who serves as CDC’s CERT lead and liaison to the states. “And we’ve made an extra effort to make sure the United States is prepared to address local transmission and the effect of Zika on pregnant women and infants.”