ANNAPOLIS, MD - State agriculture workers are gearing-up to kick-off mosquito spraying in our area. Officials say they've been scouting out mosquito breeding sites, and the bugs are about to start biting.
Mosquito Control Program Manager, Brian Prendergast says you can thank the cool weather this May for delaying the pests.
"Anywhere inland and particularly in neighborhoods, the most common nuisance mosquito is going to be the Asian Tiger Mosquito."
So far, there have been 544 confirmed cases of the virus in the United States, 17 of them are right here in Maryland. In every case, the mosquito-borne illness was picked up while traveling.
"Our concern is that one of those travelers is going to come back to Maryland, get bit by a mosquito, and then that mosquito is going to go bite a neighbor or somebody else," said Prendergast.
Zika is linked to babies being born with abnormally small heads and brains, a condition called microcephaly. The State Agriculture Department is using extra funding to hire eight new staffers dedicated to fight Zika.
If the virus starts spreading locally, state workers will respond to every case.
"So it's going to be kinda a two pronged approach,” Prendergast said. “One is to kill the adults that are already flying around, and the other is to prevent new mosquitos from developing."
There is no vaccine for Zika, and it can be sexually transmitted. Public health officials say your only defense is prevention. You can avoid bites by wearing long sleeves and using bug spray, but you can also act at home.
"The sooner they start, the better,” said Prendergast. “If they start now then there's a good chance that they would prevent any adult mosquitos from ever coming off, if they wait a couple weeks then the adult mosquitos are going to get ahead of them."