LEONARDTOWN, MD – Several countries and territories in South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Oceania/Pacifica Islands, as well as Mexico and Cape Verde, are experiencing epidemics of Zika virus infection. Recently, several people in the Miami, Florida area contracted Zika virus through their local mosquitoes. Symptoms of Zika can include fever, joint pain, skin rash, and red eyes. The St. Mary’s County Health Department is advising residents who have visited any area with local Zika transmission, including the Miami area as of June 15, to discuss Zika testing with their health care provider if they have experienced any Zika symptoms.  Any pregnant woman who has visited any area with local Zika transmission, including the Miami area as of June 15, should discuss Zika testing with her health care provider even if she has not had Zika symptoms. Pregnant women who have had any vaginal, anal, or oral sexual exposure to a man or woman who has traveled to an area where Zika is being transmitted by local mosquitoes should also consult with their health care providers. Anyone who has questions about their Zika risk can also contact the health department to speak with an Infectious Disease Program nurse at 301-475-4330.

The health department encourages all residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites and to eliminate mosquito breeding areas near their homes:
Eliminate standing water in and around your home. Once a week, empty, scrub, cover or throw out items that hold water. Mosquitos can breed in containers as small as a bottle cap, even with only one half inch of water.
Keep mosquitoes out of your home. Use screens on doors and windows, and use air conditioning when available. Repair any tears in your window or door screens.
If you have a septic tank, repair cracks or gaps and cover open vents or plumbing pipes.
Prevent mosquito bites. Use an EPA-registered insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol. For a list of EPA-registered insect repellents, visit www.epa.gov
To report a mosquito nuisance or to request assistance from our local Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) office, please call 301-373-4263.

For more information about Zika virus disease, visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/zika or the St. Mary’s County Health Department website at www.smchd.org/zika. To learn more about mosquito-proofing your surroundings, visit the Maryland Department of Agriculture website.