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As Marylanders prepare to celebrate July Fourth, a Zika awareness reminder

July 1st, 2016 by WCBC Radio

As Marylanders prepare to enjoy outdoor recreational activities in conjunction with Independence Day festivities, the State of Maryland is reminding them to take steps to guard against Zika transmission.  

“Maryland’s confirmed cases of Zika have all been tied to travel from areas where the virus is being actively transmitted,” said Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Van T. Mitchell. “A traveler with a Zika infection who is asymptomatic, as most Zika-infected people are, could be bitten by a mosquito, which could spread the virus when it bites someone else. We want to guard against such occurrences here in Maryland.”   

The State is reminding residents to exercise caution, given the link between Zika infection of pregnant women and the occurrence of birth defects in their babies. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Zika virus is chiefly spread through mosquito bites, though less frequently, transmission via sexual contact, blood transfusion and to newborns during pregnancy has been documented.  

People attending outdoor events this weekend and throughout mosquito season should take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. They should use mosquito repellant with DEET, as well as eliminate containers of standing water in the backyards or other areas where they might hold a cookout.  

The Maryland Department of Agriculture regularly conducts surveillance for mosquitoes, in cooperation with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to determine if they are present and in certain cases, if they are carrying diseases like Zika or West Nile Virus. Those efforts will be enhanced in light of Zika.

In addition, if there is a high risk of Zika transmission due to mosquito presence or activity, or a human case of Zika, then the Maryland Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with state and local health officials, will act quickly and decisively. 

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