Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites and can result in an illness involving fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes; however, 80% of people with Zika virus illness do not have any symptoms. Zika virus has been linked to birth defects such as microcephaly when a pregnant woman is affected by the infection. Some cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome (an illness leading to weakness or paralysis) have also been tied to the current Zika virus outbreak. Because specific areas affected by Zika virus continue to change, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is providing the most up-to-date information on areas with Zika virus transmission.
Information for Health Care Providers
Click here for specific guidance to Maryland Health Care Providers.
Local and State Activity
- The St. Mary’s County Health Department has been monitoring the current international Zika virus situation, and is working with local health care providers to coordinate appropriate testing for Zika virus when indicated.
- The St. Mary’s County Health Department is working with the local office of the Maryland Department of Agriculture on mosquito source reduction in St. Mary’s County.
- Information on state preparation for Zika virus may be found on the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website.
Neighborhood Mosquito Source Reduction Campaign
The St. Mary’s County Health Department has developed a toolkit to help implement neighborhood mosquito source reduction campaigns. Click here for more information.
The best way to prevent Zika virus from spreading is by eliminating mosquito breeding areas and protecting yourself from mosquito bites.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provides long-lasting protection.
- If using both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first, followed by the repellent.
- Do not spray the insect repellent on the skin under your clothing.
- Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated clothing.
- Always follow label instructions when using insect repellent or sunscreen.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when weather permits.
- Use air-conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitos out. Use mosquito bed nets is accessible during your travel.
- Reduce the number of mosquitoes inside and outside your home or hotel room by emptying standing water from containers such as flower pots or buckets.
For more tips on mosquito proofing your home and community, please visit the Maryland Department of Agriculture website.
Mosquito Source Reduction
General Information about Zika Virus Disease
Only about one in five people infected with Zika virus show symptoms of illness. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease include fever, rash, joint pain or red eyes. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, pain behind the eyes, and vomiting. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for 2-7 days. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. If you have traveled recently to one of the Zika affected areas and are having symptoms as described, please contact your healthcare provider. If you are pregnant and have recently traveled to an area affected by Zika, please see your healthcare provider as soon as possible even if you don’t have symptoms.
Through mosquito bites:
Zika virus is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitos typically lay eggs in and near standing water in buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots and vases. They are aggressive daytime biters, prefer to bite people, and live indoors and outdoors near people. Mosquitos become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitos can then spread the virus to other people through bites.
From mother to child:
A mother infected with Zika virus can pass the virus on to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. Anyone who is pregnant and has recently traveled to areas of the world with Zika virus transmission should meet with their health care provider to arrange appropriate testing and follow-up for Zika virus. Concerned pregnant women without an established provider should call the St. Mary’s County Health Department for assistance.
A person infected with Zika virus may be able to pass the virus on to someone else through sexual contact. Pregnant women whose partners have recently traveled to an area affected by Zika virus transmission should minimize their risk of being exposed sexually to the Zika virus.
As of yet, there is no medicine or vaccine to cure or prevent Zika virus disease. Treatment includes getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids to prevent dehydration, and taking medicine (such as acetaminophen/Tylenol) to relieve fever and pain. Avoid taking aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Motrin/Ibuprofen or Aleve until Dengue virus infection (which may have similar symptoms as Zika virus infection) can be ruled out.
If You Are Pregnant or Trying to Become Pregnant
Pregnant women in any trimester or those women planning on becoming pregnant should consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant who plan to travel to one of these areas should talk to their healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip. It is safe for pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding to use insect repellent. They should use an EPA-registered insect repellent according to product instructions. Click here for additional information for pregnant women or women planning on becoming pregnant.
Prevent the Spread of Zika Virus
- Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Zika Virus Information
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Zika Virus
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Zika Virus Information for Pregnant Women
- Centers for Disese Control and Prevention: Mosquito Control Tips
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Mosquito Bite Prevention for Travelers
- Maryland Department of Agriculture: Mosquito Control
- Maryland Department of Agriculture: Zika Awareness & Prevention (mosquito reduction videos)
- Maryland Department of Agriculture: Local Contact Information (to report a mosquito nuisance)