Montgomery Co. officials fighting against spread of Zika

WASHINGTON — This week was declared Zika Awareness Week by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, but Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Ulder Tillman says this is just the beginning of a fight against the mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus.

“We’re not just doing things for this week, we need to do it all summer long until we get to the end of September,” Tillman told reporters at a news conference.

Wearing a hat, long sleeves and long pants tucked into her socks, Tillman said she knows that dressing to defend against the mosquito-borne illness will be a tough sell.

“I know for some, it’s going to take getting used to,” Tillman said. “It’s easy today, but as it gets real hot, it’s hard.”

But referring to the advice to cover up and use insect repellent, Tillman said, “that at least gives you a barrier between the mosquitoes and your skin!”

According to Maryland state health officials, there have been 12 Zika cases recorded in the state — all of them related to travel in Zika-affected areas. Tillman said the state is tracking cases and health departments can test for exposure to the virus.

“There is no treatment for Zika, there is no vaccine at this time,” Tillman said. “So we have to emphasize prevention.”

Standing outside her Rockville home, Dr. Tillman demonstrated ways to rid your yard of standing water that serves as an inviting place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. She turned over children’s toys — a little beach bucket and sand castle molds — that had filled with water in the rain. She demonstrated how to empty and scrub out your birdbath — once a week is enough, Tillman said.

And, Tillman said, she learned something by observation: tipping over lawn furniture so the seats didn’t fill with water wasn’t good enough.

She pointed to areas of the underside of a lawnchair where water could pool. So instead, she says, drill small holes into the seats to allow the water to drain.

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