Maryland remains concerned about Zika virus

The concerns over the mosquito-borne Zika virus diminished over the winter.

But the Maryland Department of Health said there have already been six cases of the virus reported this year in Maryland.

Health officials said the incidents are a good reminder to take precautions when traveling to affected areas.

“Maryland has a number of mosquito-borne viruses, so we’re very worried about Zika virus being introduced here from a returning traveler,” Dr. Katherine Feldman, chief of Maryland’s Center for Zoonotic and Vectorborne Diseases, said.

Feldman said last year there were 174 cases of Zika virus reported in Maryland.

“But it’s really important to understand that all of those individuals traveled to areas where zika is being actively transmitted,” Feldman said.

Health officials stressed that there was no mosquito transmission of zika in Maryland last year, and the health department wants to keep it that way in 2017.

The health department released a public service announcement this year with tips to prevent mosquitoes and information about how Zika virus is spread.

Zika is not spread through casual contact but is sexually transmitted, so the health department said there are precautions you need to take if you’re planning on having a family.

Feldman says women should talk to their doctors about the wait time to conceive after traveling to an infected area.

“Zika can cause devastating consequences to developing fetuses, so pregnant woman are advised not to travel at all to areas where there is active Zika transmission,” Feldman said.

Feldman said that anyone traveling to nations where there has been a Zika virus outbreak should take aggressive measures to guard against mosquito bites.

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