Zika Local Health Department Initiative


To help local health departments respond to the Zika virus outbreak, CDC launched the Zika Local Health Department (LHD) Initiative. The LHD Initiative placed field assignees in local health departments responding to Zika virus in order to build the capacity to

  • Provide educational outreach about Zika virus to healthcare providers and community members;
  • Monitor pregnant women and infants affected by Zika virus;
  • Report Zika virus infection data to the appropriate state health agency and CDC; and
  • Refer women, infants, and families affected by Zika virus to additional services, as needed.

Field assignees were people with expertise in public health who were placed in the local health department to help respond to local needs regarding Zika virus infection.

Key Features

There were 5 goals of the LHD Initiative:

  • To strengthen collaboration between public health and healthcare providers
  • To provide a skilled person to help LHDs meet the needs of their communities
  • To mobilize the maternal and child health (MCH) community to collaborate with CDC, partner organizations, field assignees, and local and state health departments
  • To engage partner organizations to support sharing knowledge, skills, and expertise
  • To use CDC resources to support field assignees in addressing the needs of mothers and infants


The Initiative supported LHDs and communities by doing the following activities:

  • Expanding educational outreach to healthcare providers
  • Improving outreach and education to community members
  • Increasing the number of healthcare providers who followed Zika virus testing guidance and followed up with infants potentially affected by Zika virus
  • Supporting collection of clinical data on pregnant women and infants affected by Zika virus
  • Connecting families affected by Zika virus to services

These activities led to the following:

  • Better monitoring of pregnant women and infants affected by Zika virus
  • Better understanding of the health effects of Zika virus among pregnant women and infants
  • More healthcare providers conducting appropriate testing and follow-up of pregnant women and infants potentially affected by Zika virus
  • More families affected by Zika virus referred to needed services
  • Increased capacity for LHDs to respond to Zika virus and future emergencies alongside MCH and clinical providers