Charles County Health Department says Zika Virus isn’t a typical one
Offers residents tips to stay safe
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.