Governor Hogan Proclaims April 23-29 Zika Virus Awareness Week

April 28, 2017

Residents urged to do their part to prevent spread of mosquito-borne disease

As mosquito season approaches, Governor Larry Hogan has issued a proclamation declaring April 23-29 “Zika Virus Disease Awareness Week” in Maryland – a time for residents to take simple but critically important steps to prevent the spread of the mosquitoes that may carry the Zika virus. It is imperative that Maryland residents survey their properties and their communities and eliminate or treat mosquito breeding sites.

“As we prepare for warmer weather and mosquito season, it is essential that Marylanders are equipped with the knowledge that will help reduce their chance of contracting this virus,” said Governor Hogan. “Zika Virus Disease Awareness Week is about raising awareness and educating our citizens about the necessary precautions to remain safe.”

Although researchers still have a lot to discover about Zika, they know that the virus spreads primarily through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes, and that it also can be sexually transmitted by humans. As of April 19, there have been 185 cases of Zika virus in Maryland dating back to late 2015—all associated with travel to areas where the disease has been actively transmitted. The disease has not been transmitted in Maryland by mosquitoes; however, that may change as the Aedes mosquitoes become active in warmer weather, usually around the beginning of May in Maryland. If a mosquito takes a blood meal from a recent traveler who has Zika virus circulating in his or her blood, the mosquito can become infected and can transmit the virus when it takes another blood meal.

“We are going to continue to remind Marylanders how to guard themselves and their loved ones against transmission of the Zika virus,” said Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “The risk of the birth defects linked with the virus is just too high to ignore. We urge our residents to take protective measures as we head into warmer months marked by extensive travel and mosquito activity.”

“We anticipate a heightened risk for local transmission of Zika virus as local Aedes mosquitoes become active in May,” said Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “The best way to prevent Zika virus is to prevent mosquito bites. This is why it is critical for all Marylanders to survey their property and eliminate or treat potential mosquito breeding areas.”

About Zika Virus

Most people infected with the Zika virus do not know it, as symptoms are relatively mild. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). However, the virus poses a significant threat to pregnant women because it has been linked to birth defects, including a condition known as microcephaly. The virus may also be linked to a rare neurologic disorder, Guillain Barre Syndrome.

The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is three to 14 days. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week but it can be found longer in some people. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections. There is no vaccine to prevent or treat the disease at this time.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend residents see a healthcare provider if they show symptoms within two weeks of possible exposure to Zika virus, especially if they have travelled to a region where the virus is active or have had sexual contact with someone who has traveled. Health and Mental Hygiene urges people who believe they are at risk for contracting Zika to alert their healthcare provider.


The best way to avoid the Zika virus is to prevent mosquito bites. And the best way to avoid bites is to eliminate areas where these mosquitoes lay their eggs. These areas are called “breeding sites.”

Aedes mosquitoes breed in containers of standing water, rather than marshlands. Items like lawn furniture, corrugated drain pipes, flower pots, children’s toys and a variety of common household items can quickly become mosquito breeding grounds. It is vital that all Marylanders make an effort to survey their property now and drain or eliminate anything where water can pool. For instance, store items that hold water inside or upside down. The Department of Agriculture has produced a series of video PSAs on eliminating breeding zones.

The department also suggests that residents take precautions to minimize their exposure to mosquito bites. These measures include:

  • Wear long, loose fitting, light colored clothing
  • Apply insect repellents according to product labels
  • Avoid mosquito-infested areas during prime periods of activity (early and late in the day and at night in well-lit areas)
  • Install, inspect, and repair window and door screens in homes and stables

For more tips on eliminating mosquito breeding areas, avoiding mosquito bites, as well as general information on Aedes mosquitoes, visit the Department of Agriculture’s Zika website at: For more information about the Zika virus in Maryland, please visit