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    As Marylanders prepare to celebrate July Fourth, a Zika awareness reminder
    Add mosquito bite prevention to your outdoor celebrations
    Baltimore, MD (July 1, 2016) – As Marylanders prepare to enjoy outdoor recreational activities in conjunction with Independence Day festivities, the State of Maryland is reminding them to take steps to guard against Zika transmission.  
    “Maryland’s confirmed cases of Zika have all been tied to travel from areas where the virus is being actively transmitted,” said Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Van T. Mitchell. “A traveler with a Zika infection who is asymptomatic, as most Zika-infected people are, could be bitten by a mosquito, which could spread the virus when it bites someone else. We want to guard against such occurrences here in Maryland.”   
    The State is reminding residents to exercise caution, given the link between Zika infection of pregnant women and the occurrence of birth defects in their babies. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Zika virus is chiefly spread through mosquito bites, though less frequently, transmission via sexual contact, blood transfusion and to newborns during pregnancy has been documented.  
    People attending outdoor events this weekend and throughout mosquito season should take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. They should use mosquito repellant with DEET, as well as eliminate containers of standing water in the backyards or other areas where they might hold a cookout.  
    The Maryland Department of Agriculture regularly conducts surveillance for mosquitoes, in cooperation with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to determine if they are present and in certain cases, if they are carrying diseases like Zika or West Nile Virus. Those efforts will be enhanced in light of Zika.
    In addition, if there is a high risk of Zika transmission due to mosquito presence or activity, or a human case of Zika, then the Maryland Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with state and local health officials, will act quickly and decisively. 
    As soon as possible, the department will spray for adult mosquitoes in a prescribed area around the residence of infected individuals to kill adult mosquitoes that may be carrying the virus. Then, generally within 24 hours, inspectors will go door-to-door in the area to inspect properties for mosquito breeding sites and will conduct residual spraying that will reduce adult mosquito populations during the infectious period. 
    If you will be attending a state park, be vigilant to eliminate any standing water you see around you and your party. For information on state parks, visit http://goo.gl/98CKYn.
    Health and Mental Hygiene has been distributing Zika prevention kits to Maryland communities through local health departments. Those kits include mosquito repellant with DEET, mosquito larvicide dunks, as well as condoms to guard against sexual transmission of Zika. 
    For more CDC information on avoiding Zika infection during travel, visit http://goo.gl/lgHuWC. For CDC information on the Zika virus in Spanish, visit http://goo.gl/9oYFgj. Health and Mental Hygiene’s Maryland Zika case count, prevention information and video from our employee Zika town hall meeting can be found at http://goo.gl/eW937c. Maryland’s Department of Agriculture also has a page about mosquito control and other Zika-related information at http://goo.gl/Gdw3RJ.   

    Marylanders who need help finding substance abuse treatment resources should visit http://goo.gl/nIfGm0 or call the Maryland Crisis Hotline, which provides 24/7 support, at 1-800-422-0009. For information on many of the policies currently implemented to fight addiction and overdose in Maryland, see http://goo.gl/KvEzQw. If you know of someone who could use treatment for substance abuse, treatment facilities can be located by location and program characteristics on our page at http://goo.gl/rbGF6S.   

    The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is the State agency that protects Maryland’s public health. We work together to promote and improve the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management, and community engagement. Stay connected: www.twitter.com/MarylandDHMH  andwww.facebook.com/MarylandDHMH