By Tracey Leong

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Concerns over Zika virus continue to mount, as the mosquito-borne illness spreads across Central and South America.

The disease is not being spread by mosquitoes in the U.S., but some fear that could change.

Tracey Leong has more on the measures being taken to keep you safe.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture is encouraging the public to help prevent the spread of Zika virus. There are currently more than 500 cases in the United States, including some in Maryland.

The disease is spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito and can cause a birth defect called microcehaly, where babies are born with deformed heads and severe neurological damage.

All transmissions of the virus in the U.S. have been from traveling to countries with outbreaks. There are currently no infected mosquitoes in the U.S., but there is a chance.

“Someone were to come from some of those places, come back to Maryland and be bit by a mosquito that is a Zika carrier, which, unfortunately, does exist in Maryland,” said Kurt Godwin, the co-owner of Mosquito Joe.

Godwin says the best way to prevent a Zika outbreak is to be proactive and remove any mosquito breeding areas on your property — like standing water that accumulates around your home in containers.

Even in something as small as a bottle cap, a female mosquito could lay up to 400 eggs!

“The breeding period is between five and 14 days for most breeds of mosquito, so anything longer than five days or older, we need to get rid of,” said Godwin.

Since there is no vaccine for the virus, the best defense is preventing mosquito bites and eliminating mosquitoes from reproducing.

The Zika virus remains in the blood of an infected person for at least a week and can be sexually transmitted.

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