Smithtown, NY - May 13, 2016 - The New York State Department of Health and the Suffolk County Health Department will hold the state's first county-wide mosquito control day on Saturday, May 14, it was announced today at a press event. The event is part of the state's six-step Zika Action Plan, which required all local health departments to submit plans to control and monitor the mosquito population in their communities.
"New York's residents can rest assured that the state is taking aggressive action to reduce the risk of Zika virus transmission in the state," said Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker. "Local implementation of the county action plans is an integral part of the state's efforts to minimize the impact of Zika, and we are grateful to Suffolk County for their efforts to keep their community safe from Zika."
State and local health officials were at the press event at a private residence, to demonstrate mosquito trapping devices and advise local residents on how to reduce mosquitos in their yards this season. Part of that will involve eliminating containers with standing water, which is where mosquitos can breed. The state also provided free larvicide which controls the mosquito population by killing eggs and preventing breeding, to towns for use in water that cannot be removed. In addition, health officials provided information for pregnant travelers on how to stay safe.
The Suffolk County event comes as the state launches a major Zika virus awareness and prevention campaign that targets travelers to the affected countries, pregnant women and their partners, and homeowners. The campaign includes television and radio ads; banners on social and digital media, and billboards and subway ads.
Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus transmitted primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito in South and Central America. Although Aedes aegypti mosquitos are not present in New York, a related species named Aedes albopictus is present in New York City, Long Island, and the lower Hudson Valley. It is not yet known whether Aedes albopictus – the type in New York – is an effective transmitter of Zika virus. The state is monitoring the albopictus activity in southern states for transmission of the virus.
Mosquito season typically runs from April through September. In February, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
Although the virus causes symptoms in only one in five people, it has been associated with microcephaly, a birth defect in babies born to women infected with Zika during pregnancy. The virus may also be sexually transmitted. Symptoms of Zika infection include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes).
"Suffolk County residents' public safety and health are of paramount concern to me," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. "Suffolk County's Mosquito Control Day will serve as an opportunity for residents to learn what they can do to take action to minimize the spread of all mosquito borne illnesses, including the Zika virus."
On March 17, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo launched a six-step Zika Action Plan to address the virus in New York. This first-in-the-nation plan includes distributing 100,000 larvicide tablets to eliminate mosquito breeding sites; aggressively monitoring the mosquito population through trapping and testing; providing free Zika protection kits to pregnant women; deploying Rapid Response Teams wherever local mosquito transmission is confirmed; issuing emergency regulations requiring local health departments to submit Zika Action Plans; and launching a broad public awareness campaign.
Confirmed cases of Zika in New York have all been associated with international travel. As of May 12, there have been 128 New York State residents who tested positive for Zika virus. Of those, 127 acquired the virus while traveling abroad; it is suspected the other patient acquired the virus through sexual contact with an infected person. There are currently no confirmed mosquito-to-human transmissions in New York State or the continental United States.
For more information, call the Zika information line at 1(888) 364-4723, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or visit the website.