Watch CBS News

Health Professionals In Maryland Continue To Warn Against Zika Virus

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- In Maryland, the best defense against the Zika virus is a good offense -- not getting bit by a mosquito in the first place.

"We don't have a treatment for Zika right now, there's no vaccine, there's no anti-viral, so it is really all about prevention," says Dr. Howard Haft, deputy secretary of public health at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Haft says it's crucial to get rid of standing water, which can turn into a breeding area. It's also important that we use mosquito repellents and cover our skin.

But the virus can also be sexually transmitted.

"A male who is in a Zika area of active transmission, who returns from that area, can transmit Zika to a woman that is his partner for up 6 months," Haft says.

The Zika virus is particularly concerning for women because it has been linked to a birth defect known as microcephaly.

Right now, Maryland has 31 reported Zika cases. That's approximately 3 percent of the total number of cases in the U.S.

But Maryland is unique. While no one has contracted the virus from being bitten in our state, we do have a high number of travelers who visit infected areas in Central and South America and in the Caribbean.

"We do have mosquitoes that are competent to carry Zika from an infected person," Haft says. A mosquito in Maryland could conceivably bite a person, become infected itself and then transmit the virus to another person. "Not all states have that."

Health officials are reminding anyone who experiences Zika symptoms -- including fever, rash, or pink eye, to contact their doctor.

The CDC is giving Maryland more than $360,000 toward Zika prevention.

Follow @CBSBaltimore on Twitter and like WJZ-TV | CBS Baltimore on Facebook

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.