WASHINGTON — With the number of people in the United States infected by the Zika virus carried by local mosquitoes limited so far to 14 in a neighborhood north of Miami, health officials in the D.C. region are taking steps to prevent the problem from coming here.
Zika cases have been confirmed in Maryland, Virginia and the District, but all of the cases are thought to involve people who traveled internationally and contracted the virus elsewhere.
To this point, no local mosquitoes have tested positive for the virus.
It’s the peak of mosquito season, and Maryland and Virginia will get money from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help prevent the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
The mosquitoes that are thought to carry Zika — aedes aegypti, known for their white and black markings, and Aedes albopictus — live in our area, and range from the southern U.S. as far north as Connecticut.
State agriculture departments have been spraying to control mosquitoes, and plan to spray in any place the virus is reported.
On an individual basis, residents are encouraged to use mosquito repellent, wear long sleeves and empty any pools of standing water, even in small containers such as pet bowls.
Most people who contract Zika have no symptoms.
“Our top priority is to protect pregnant women from the potentially devastating harm caused by Zika,” said the CDC’s Dr. Lyle Petersen.
This week, the CDC warned pregnant women and their partners not to travel to the affected area north of downtown Miami, although no other travel warnings have been issued.
“If you use common-sense precautions to avoid mosquito bites, like applying insect repellent and wearing protective clothing, any threat of Zika infection can be easily managed,” Dr. D.A. Henderson of the UPMC Center for Health Security in Baltimore told the Baltimore Sun. “The overreaction and hype about Zika is not warranted or helpful.”