Baltimore Forms Zika Working Group

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Following a confirmed case of Zika virus in Maryland last week, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is forming a group to prepare should the virus come to Baltimore.

This doesn’t mean Zika is an immediate threat to Baltimore City. But with the WHO’s declaration of a public health emergency and cases also reported in Florida, the idea is to form a multiagency partnership to stop the virus’ spread if a case is reported in the city. The working group is chaired by Health Commissioner Leana Wen, and is made up officials from a cross-section of city departments. The first meeting will be held in February.

“I am confident that the members of the Zika Preparedness Working Group, under the leadership of Dr. Wen, will identify and implement solutions to minimize the impact that this virus might have on the quality of life in Baltimore’s communities.”

Zika is primarily spread through a mosquito, and can possibly also be transmitted through blood transfusions or sexual intercourse. The current outbreak began last year in Brazil, and spread to 26 countries in the Americas.

“Since the first reported U.S. infection, the Baltimore City Health Department has been closely monitoring and coordinating with our Federal and State partners to stay abreast of the rapidly changing situation,” Wen said in a statement. “We have convened calls with and sent letters to Baltimore City hospitals and providers, and have conducted public education campaigns.

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