Charles County Health De­part­ment says Zika Virus isn’t a typ­i­cal one

Of­fers res­i­dents tips to stay safe

Maryland Independent - - News - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­ Twit­ter: Tif­fIndyNews

As res­i­dents wel­come the fun that comes with warm weather, they’ll find un­wel­com­ing mos­qui­toes as well. Mos­qui­toes are a con­tin­u­ous nui­sance and carry a num­ber of dis­eases harm­ful to hu­mans such as Dengue fever, Chikun­gunya virus, West Nile Virus and the newly found, Zika virus.

“The de­part­ment of health is work­ing closely with Charles County gov­ern­ment to pro­vide ed­u­ca­tion and guid­ance to res­i­dents re­gard­ing the Zika virus. Every­one is urged to heed the rec­om­men­da­tions for elim­i­nat­ing mos­quito breed­ing grounds around their homes and tak­ing pre­cau­tions when out­doors,” Charles County Health Of­fi­cer Dr. Dianna E. Ab­ney said.

Ac­cord­ing to the Charles County De­part­ment of Health, all of the Zika virus na­tive cases where peo­ple were bit­ten by mos­qui­tos, were found in Cen­tral Amer­ica, South Amer­ica and the Caribbean. There are six known cases of the Zika virus in Mary­land but they are all peo­ple that brought it in from those par­tic­u­lar re­gions.

The CCDH said there are no cases in Charles County so far but health of­fi­cers feel preg­nant women are in dan­ger.

“The re­ally big is­sue with Zika is that it’s a dan­ger to preg­nant women or women who want to be­come preg­nant. Sci­en­tists have found a cor­re­la­tion with mi­cro­cephaly, mean­ing chil­dren born with small heads, and the Zika Virus,” said Wil­liam Leebel, Charles County De­part­ment of Health pub­lic in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer.

The CCDH also learned that the Zika virus does not fol­low all of the rules of a reg­u­lar com­mu­ni­ca­ble disease be­cause it can be con­tracted through sex­ual con­tact.

“The Zika virus it­self is not ter­ri­bly se­vere. Only about 20 per­cent of the peo­ple that ac­tu­ally are ex­posed to the Zika virus are asymp­to­matic, mean­ing they don’t have any symp­toms or don’t even know that they have it,” Leebel said.

The CCDH ad­vises lo­cal res­i­dents to keep their house pro­tected be­cause these types of mos­qui­tos can breed and live in the home as well.

“Although most mos­qui­tos typ­i­cally come out at dusk or dark, the mos­qui­tos car­ry­ing the Zika virus are day fight­ers,” Leebel said.

Ac­cord­ing to the CCDH, the U.S. Cen­ter for Disease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion is keep­ing a close eye on states such as Texas and Florida since those re­gions are closer to the Caribbean.

“It looks like we will be deal­ing with Zika virus through­out the warm weather sea­son. Our com­mu­ni­ca­ble disease spe­cial­ists will be en­gaged in Zika sur­veil­lance on a daily ba­sis as long as the threat ex­ists. Ad­di­tion­ally, I was part of a health of­fi­cials team from Mary­land who at­tended a Zika con­fer­ence in At­lanta, Ga., on April 1,” Ab­ney said.

Ab­ney added that it is im­por­tant that res­i­dents act to stop the breed­ing of mos­qui­toes and avoid mos­quito bites over the forth­com­ing sea­son.

There are a num­ber of other rec­om­mended ac­tions that res­i­dents can take in­clud­ing the use of an ap­proved in­sect re­pel­lant con­tain­ing DEET (di­ethyl­tolu­amide) when out­doors, use of air con­di­tion­ing when pos­si­ble, keep doors and win­dows closed, make sure win­dow screens are in place and free from holes, wear long sleeves and pants out­side, reg­u­larly in­spect the ar­eas around the home and re­move all mos­quito breed­ing grounds such as clogged gut­ters, planters, buck­ets, toys, pools, bird­baths, ponds, and any other stand­ing wa­ter ar­eas.

“The de­part­ment will in­crease mes­sag­ing and aware­ness as we get into mos­quito sea­son. We rec­om­mend that if you will be trav­el­ing that you talk to your health care provider. We will be do­ing all we can to keep res­i­dents in­formed and pro­tected from the Zika virus,” Leebel said.

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