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What is Zika? Zika virus is a disease spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. Sexual transmission of Zika virus from a male partner is possible, but mosquito bites remain the primary way that the Zika virus is transmitted. There is no indication that Zika can spread from person to person through casual contact.
Am I at Risk? Most people who come in contact with the virus will experience mild symptoms, however, there are significant risks of birth defects when women have contacted the virus while pregnant. Because there is no vaccine or treatment for Zika virus, the best way to avoid the Zika virus is to prevent mosquito bites. There are cases of Zika in Maryland, however, all cases are related to travel to countries already affected by the Zika virus. There are no cases of locally-acquired Zika virus in Maryland. As mosquito season begins, Montgomery County will continue to monitor developments and will communicate information as needed.
What can I do to protect myself and my loved one from mosquitoes?
• Residents can help themselves and the community by getting rid of mosquito breeding spots. Mosquitoes that spread the Zika virus prefer to breed in small containers close to residential areas. • Eliminate standing water in and around your home. Throw out or empty and scrub items that hold water such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools and birdbaths. • Dispose of trash such as plastic bags, bottle caps, open drink cans or bottles, and trash items that may hold water. • Use air conditioning when possible and make sure screens on windows and doors do not have holes. • Clean out roof gutters and down-spouts and eliminate folds and tarps, such as swimming pool covers, grill covers, that may hold water. Drain water trapped in folds of tarps or covers and arrange so water runs off. • To protect against mosquito bites, cover up with long sleeves and pants and use recommended insect repellent when outside.
What is Montgomery County doing?
The County has formed a Zika task force of agencies and municipalities to work collectively on Zika awareness and mosquito prevention. The group is made up of the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS), the Office of Public Information, the 311 Call Center, the Departments of Environmental Protection, Housing and Community Affairs, Health and Human Services, Transportation, General Services, Recreation, the Parks Department and representatives from the local municipalities of Gaithersburg, Rockville and Takoma Park. The emphasis of the task force is to provide a coordinated approach to educate the community about protection against mosquito bites and elimination of mosquito breeding sites.
The County is launching a public education and awareness campaign that includes a website where residents can find a wealth of information about eliminating mosquitoes, Zika virus and protection against mosquito bites. The campaign will include Ride On bus ads, a mail campaign and printed materials distributed to County facilities and community locations. Municipalities will provide information and resources to their residents as well.
For more information go to the website at: montgomerycountymd.gov/mosquito.