Zika virus fight in New York City

- New York City officials say the Zika crisis is emerging and evolving and they simply want the city to be prepared for it.

Mayor Bill de Blasio along with city health officials announced a three year, $21 million plan that they say will help protect New Yorkers from the Zika virus. The virus is currently in 34 countries and can cause devastating birth defects like microcephaly.

“We are doing all we can to target the mosquito that could transmit Zika here in the city, and building the capacity to respond to every possible scenario, no matter how unlikely,” said Mayor de Blasio.

The city's plan involves reducing the number of mosquitoes, detecting the presence of the disease, and educating the public on precautions.

The city will spend $1.2 million in advertising in the subways, TV and radio to ask New Yorkers to do their part to reduce and prevent mosquito bites.  Tips include wearing protective clothing and using mosquisto repellant.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is known to carry Zika. However, health officials are worried about its relative, the Aedes albopictus, which is found in our area and could possibly carry Zika.

And while there are no cases of anyone being infected with Zika while inside the United States, the fear is that could change.

Right now there are 40 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in New York City. All of those people contracted the virus overseas. 6 of those 40 people are pregnant women. It is unclear what their health status is at this time.

The city health department says that Zika is not spreading in New York City, but local mosquitoes can spread other diseases, like West Nile virus. New Yorkers can help stop the spread of mosquito-borne viruses by following these steps:

  • Apply insect repellents and wear long sleeves or pants in the evening during mosquito season (June through September).
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors.
  • Empty standing water from containers such as flower pots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths. A very small body of water can be the breeding ground for hundreds of mosquito eggs.
  • Make sure backyard pools are properly maintained and chlorinated.
  • Report standing water to 311.
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