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When Maryland health officials began planning a defense against Zika months ago, one of the first calls was to Summit Chemical Co. for supplies of a long-acting larvicide to stop virus-carrying mosquitoes from breeding in standing water.

 

The Baltimore company’s bacteria-based larvicide — available in small doughnut-shaped disks called Dunks — was handed out to pregnant women most at risk if infected by the virus. The disks also were included in Zika kits containing other items, such as bug spray and condoms, that cost the state more than $130,000.

 

The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene also signed a $20,000 contract with the Baltimore-based consulting firm Pandit Group to conduct educational outreach, and gave an extra $420,000 to the Department of Agriculture to boost its annual $2.7 million mosquito control budget. Academic institutions, and at least one related biotech firm, have won funding to work on vaccines that could eventually be publicly marketed.

 

The Zika threat has led to economic opportunities for some businesses in Maryland and elsewhere as the state and federal governments have launched efforts to prevent spread of the virus. Millions have already been spent or committed in Maryland, and that’s just a fraction of the billions Zika is expected to cost the United States, as well as Central and South America, where there have been far more cases.

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The Baltimore Sun

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