BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland now has its first confirmed case of the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness with potentially deadly consequences.
Ava-joye Burnett with more on the diagnosis and what happens now.
Maryland tested 17 people for the virus in the last few days. That means the number of cases could go up.
Maryland now joins its neighbors — D.C., Delaware and Virginia — with at least one confirmed case of the Zika virus.
“I think this was simply an inevitability that it was just a matter of time before — through testing — we discovered our first case of Zika,” said Dr. Howard Haft, Maryland Department of Health.
But what exactly is Zika and who can get it? It’s a mosquito-borne virus that’s transferred to anyone — man, woman or child — bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus.
The symptoms usually include a fever, rash or joint pain–but many of the people who get infected never even know it.
One group that’s most at risk is pregnant women, whose babies could be born with birth defects, like smaller than average heads.
“That’s what we’re really most worried about with Zika virus is this complication among pregnant women,” said Dr. David Blythe, state epidemiologist.
For many people traveling to warmer, more tropical locations, they can’t help but think of the possibility of contracting the virus.
“I do ride my bike, but I tend to be sleeved anyway when I do that. However, mosquitoes get through stuff,” said Lizzy Morris.
The U.S. has seen at least 60 cases of Zika — mostly in the south — but that’s not enough of a deterrent for many people who are gravitating towards warmer temperatures.
“I guess until there’s a lot more information to make me nervous, I’m not really nervous about it. I just want to get out of the cold,” said Katie Caperones.
Health officials say there will not be a widespread outbreak in Maryland, but if you’re still concerned — call your doctor.
For more information on the Zika virus, CLICK HERE.