WASHINGTON — As the weather gets warmer, health experts say it will soon be mosquito breeding season. With concerns over the spread of the Zika virus, some jurisdictions are starting to spray for the pests.
Starting Sunday, the Maryland Department of Agriculture will start spraying for mosquitoes in Laurel, in specific neighborhoods where the type of mosquito capable of carrying the Zika virus has been detected.
Adult barrier spraying, as it is called, will be done at night to minimize the effect on other insects, such as bees and butterflies.
“We’re focusing a lot of time on preparedness. Our education efforts are ramping up as the mosquitoes ramp up,” said Dr. David Goodfriend, health director for Loudoun County.
The Department of Health reports 18 people in Virginia have contracted the virus. Four people are known to have the virus in D.C.
The local spread of the virus would most likely happen when a mosquito bites a person who contracted the virus while traveling abroad, experts said.
Different jurisdictions are sharing strategies for best practices for Zika prevention, but past health concerns, like the West Nile virus, have trained area leaders on how best to prepare, Goodfriend said.
It’s a topic of conversation at the monthly meeting of county health directors in Virginia.
“Again, we don’t know this will ever get into mosquito population, but we want to be prepared if it does,” Goodfriend said.
Like Montgomery County, Maryland, Loudoun County will likely only use target spraying in areas where people could be at risk,” he said.
Maryland has 17 known cases of Zika, and some of those are in Montgomery County, said Dr. Ulder Tillman, the county’s chief health officer.