Local health departments begin summer battle against Zika virus

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — There are six confirmed cases of the Zika virus in the District, 21 in Maryland and 20 in Virginia. All of these are cases in which someone carried the virus back after international travel.

Health officials throughout the D.C. region are on guard against Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases.

The annual summer battle against mosquitoes is being carried out in storm drains, retention ponds, on patios, decks and backyards from northern Virginia to suburban Maryland.

“It’s going to take a consistent, persistent community effort, week after week, month after month, and even season after season,” said Dr. Stephen Haering, director of the Alexandria Health Department.

The city treats any of its catch basins with standing water with larvicide to disrupt mosquito breeding. When large mosquito populations are encountered, health department personnel can target areas for treatment.

But homeowners must do their part, too.

“We want people to eliminate standing water around their home, because that’s where Asian tiger mosquitoes will breed. Like we say, ‘You breed ’em, you feed ’em.’ If they’re in your backyard, they’re going to be biting you,” said Jennifer Sonderman, an epidemiologist at the Alexandria Health Department.

The health department says people should use insect repellent and cover up with long, loose and light-colored clothing.

And make sure to keep mosquitoes out of the house.

“Use screens on your doors and windows, and make sure there are no tears in those screens,” Sonderman said.

The health department is in close contact with doctors and other health care providers to carefully screen those traveling to and from the world’s Zika zones, which include Central and South America.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up