Maryland Zika Awareness Week
Governor Larry Hogan has declared this week “Zika Awareness Week” in Maryland. The CDC recently reported that the Zika virus “is scarier than we initially thought.” Thirty US states are now considered at risk, including Maryland and Washington, DC area is ranked #16 of the 30 cities with the highest risk of Zika. Read this article to find out how you can prevent the spread of Zika in Maryland.
Time to panic?
“Certainly not. But it is time to become prepared and learn more,” according to Dr. Freedman of Evolve Medical Clinics. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases put it this way: “I’m not an alarmist…but the more we learn…the more we look around and say this is very serious.”
Anne Arundel County Health Department, in combination with Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) is hosting a free Town Hall meeting on Thursday April 28th 6:30-7:30 at Anne Arundel Community College.
Risk in Maryland?
According to the Anne Arundel County Department of Health, 9 cases of Zika have been found in Maryland but these have all been related to travel to affected areas. “The Asian tiger mosquito, which is common in Maryland, can spread the virus; and there is a risk of Zika being imported into Maryland through international travel and being spread by local mosquitoes.” In addition, according to the Maryland Dept of Agriculture, the Asian Tiger Mosquito has become the primary pest species in Maryland.
“The level of alarm is extremely high, as is the level of uncertainty,” said Margaret Chan, WHO’s director-general.
According to the CDC, if you are diagnosed with Zika, it is very important that you protect yourself from further mosquito bites to avoid infecting a new mosquito who will then infect a new person and perpetuating the cycle (see right).
Symptoms of Zika
Around 80% of people infected with the Zika virus have either mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. The primary symptoms to look for are:
- Fever over 101 F
- Eye pain and redness (conjunctivitis)
- Joint pain (often smaller joints of hands and feet)
If you develop a fever, rash, joint or muscle pain, or red eyes, you should be seen by your doctor or at an urgent care (to schedule with Evolve Medical Clinics, click here).
Recently, in addition to microcephaly, the paralyzing condition called Guillane-Barre has been diagnosed in 400 Zika patients. And The New England Journal of Medicine reports that the Zika virus may be associated with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.
How to Prevent the Spread of Zika
Step one in prevention is to educate yourself–and your family and friends. Share this article and consider attending Anne Arundel County Health Department’s Town Hall meeting on Thursday evening (April 28th).
The CDC recommends the following specific measures:
Before mosquito seasons
- Mosquito education campaigns
- Remove and dispose of any water holding containers
- Cover, dump, modify or treat large water-holding containers with long-lasting larvicide.
- Reduce adult mosquito resting sites by keeping vegetation trimmed and tall grass cut
Beginning of mosquito season
- Educate friends/neighbors: During the first week of illness, an infected person can infect mosquitoes, triggering local outbreak
- Educate friends/neighbors to constantly get rid of water holding containers outside
- Educate friends/neighbors about reported cases of disease and urge them to use:
- Insect repellents
- Window and door screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering the house
- Air conditioning
- Adult mosquito control
- Don’t forget to treat storm drains, roof gutters, etc
As a community:
- Organize clean-up campaigns
- Target disposable containers, including large junk objects that accumulate water (broken washing machines, refrigerators, toilets) in buildings, public areas, etc.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture summarizes our personal and community responsibility:
“The elimination of the breeding containers for tiger mosquitoes is largely the responsibility of the individual to conduct thorough and repeated efforts to remove or drain all such containers on his/her property. On an individual basis, this is not a large task. The original cleanup of containers on a residential area should take no more than a few hours and periodic maintenance to keep each yard free of breeding containers will require a minimal time investment by individual residents.”
If you do become ill and have any doubt, see your primary care physician immediately. If you can’t be seen right away, Evolve Medical Clinics is happy to see you same day by scheduling on-line here or calling 844-322-4222.