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Baltimore leaders roll out plan to battle Zika

Posted at 6:15 PM, Apr 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-27 08:21:56-04

There is no vaccine, and no cure for the Zika Virus.  Most people don't see any symptoms once they're infected, but doctors are alarmed by the spike in babies being born with abnormally small heads and brains, a condition called microcephaly.

"Research has shown that Zika infection in pregnant women is linked to these severe birth defects in their babies," said Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Dr. Leanna Wen.

It's a virus that's mainly spread through mosquito bites.  And it turns out, the Aedes Mosquito that carries the disease is right here in Baltimore.

"With the summer months coming, there will be cases of Zika acquired in the U.S. from mosquito bites," Dr. Wen said.

Which is why Baltimore leaders announced Tuesday a city-wide plan to attack Zika and stop its spread.  It includes restarting the mosquito surveillance and control program by doing targeted spraying for mosquitos when cases of Zika pop up in the area, responding to 311 calls for standing water and either treating it or dumping it, doing mosquito surveillance to know if Zika has reached the city, and handing out Zika prevention kits to every pregnant woman in Baltimore.

"To our knowledge, this Baltimore City plan is the first in Maryland and can serve as a role model for cities not just in our state, but across the nation," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake.      

Baltimore's plan comes with an estimated $500,000 price tag, and also includes extensive public education about Zika.       

Governor Larry Hogan named this week 'Zika Virus Awareness Week' and is urging you to check your property for any containers of standing water, wear long sleeves and pants if you're concerned about mosquito bites, and use bug spray.

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