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    Health and Mental Hygiene working with CDC to monitor Zika activity, coordinate testing

      (February 5, 2016) – The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has been monitoring the activity and transmission of the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne virus that has caused the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue travel warnings for pregnant women.

    The Department is maintaining situational awareness and facilitating testing of individuals who have traveled to areas with ongoing Zika transmission – with an emphasis on pregnant women.

    “We have sent samples from travelers to affected countries to the CDC to test, and we are awaiting test results,” said Public Health Deputy Secretary Dr. Howard Haft. “We encourage Marylanders who have questions about how their travel histories might affect their risk to consult their physicians.” 

    According to the CDC, the virus chiefly is transmitted through mosquito bite, though there also more have been reports of transmission through blood transfusion and sexual contact. 

    Currently, most state health departments do not have capacity for doing Zika testing; however, the Health and Mental Hygiene public health laboratory expects to be able to test for Zika in the next two weeks. Meanwhile, we are sending all samples directly to the CDC labs for analysis.  We will keep the public informed on positive tests through weekly updates. Health and Mental Hygiene’s Communications Office will serve as the point of contact for media inquiries into Zika updates.

    Health and Mental Hygiene will continue to rely on the best, most accurate and current information concerning this disease as presented and confirmed by the CDC. The CDC continues to investigate what link there might be between Zika cases in pregnant women and infants born with microcephaly, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared with those of babies of the same sex and age. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly.

    . For more information on Zika, visit our website at or the CDC’s site at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html  and . ​