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County Officials Form Zika Virus Work Group to Help Prevent Virus from Spreading to County

County Executive Isiah Leggett was joined last Friday by County Council President Nancy Floreen, County Health Officer Dr. Ulder J. Tillman, Department of Environmental Protection Director Lisa Feldt and County and representatives from several County departments and local municipal governments to urge residents to take steps to protect themselves and their families against the Zika virus.

The County has formed a Zika work group made up of the Departments of Environmental Protection, General Services, Housing and Community Affairs, Health and Human Services, Recreation, Transportation, the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS), the Office of Public Information and 311 Call Center, the Parks Department and representatives from the local municipalities of Gaithersburg, Rockville and Takoma Park. Headed by OEMHS, the group has been coordinating efforts to educate the community about protection against mosquito bites and elimination of mosquito breeding sites.

“Let me be clear—we do not have any confirmed cases of locally acquired Zika virus in Montgomery County,” said Leggett. “All of the cases in Maryland are in individuals who have traveled where Zika is prevalent. However, we are just at the start of the mosquito season and as the weather heats up and more mosquitoes appear, we have to be vigilant.”

County officials said residents can help themselves and the community by getting rid of mosquito breeding spots, such as eliminating standing water in and around the home. Throwing out or empty and scrub items that hold water such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools and birdbaths.

Officials also suggest disposing of trash such as plastic bags, bottle caps, open drink cans or bottles, disposable cups and food wrappers. Keeping mosquitoes out of your home by using air conditioning when available and making sure there are screens on windows and doors and that screens do not have holes.

Another suggestion, was to make sure to clean out roof gutters and down-spouts. And ensuring tarps and swimming pool covers are positioned so water drains off.

To protect against mosquito bites, the best advice is to cover up with long sleeves and pants, limit outdoor activities during peak mosquito times and wear insect repellent.