Baltimore City, Counties Launch Zika Preparedness Plans

Baltimore City and neighboring counties are taking steps to prepare for Zika — the mosquito spread virus linked to the severe birth defect microcephaly.

With 388 cases of Zika nationwide and 9 cases in the state, officials across Maryland are working to protect pregnant women and reduce mosquito breeding grounds to stem the threat.

As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

With mosquito season approaching, Baltimore city officials say they are taking steps to minimize the number of Zika infections locally by spraying insecticide, educating residents on prevention and handing out safety kits to pregnant women most at risk from the virus.

Zika, spread by the bite of an Aedes mosquito, was once thought to be benign but recently was officially linked to the severe birth defect microcephaly. When some pregnant women are infected with the virus, it stunts the growth of their fetuses’ brains and heads.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared April 24-30 Zika Awareness Week and has been coordinating educational events with local health departments. The state funded the kits for pregnant women that include information, repellent and condoms to protect women from sexual transmission. About 10,000 kits — including 950 in Baltimore — will be distributed around Maryland at a cost of $130,000, according to the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Howard County’s health department, for example, is planning to distribute its 450 kits to obstetrics and gynecology practices over the next several days in an effort to protect pregnant women, officials there said.

Anne Arundel, which received 850 kits, also plans a town hall meeting on April 28 where health and agriculture officials will provide an overview of the Zika virus and information on prevention and mosquito control.

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun.

The Zika virus will be a topic of discussion at the MACo Summer Conference.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: