August 23, 2016
By Stephanie West
New York, NY – To date, New York City has invested $21 million over three years to enhance mosquito surveillance and control, increase testing and build greater public awareness around the virus.
Since the announcement of the City’s Zika Action Plan in April, over 3,400 at-risk pregnant women have been tested, with 49 pregnant women testing positive and one baby born with microcephaly due to Zika.
“New York City is deeply proud of our aggressive and comprehensive Zika response,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Though the mosquito carrying Zika has not been identified here, nearly a quarter of all positive cases in the continental United States are in New York. As a global city, we must continue to act aggressively with the full support of our federal government, and we hope the other cities will adhere to this model.”
Most people testing positive for Zika in New York City acquired the infection from mosquito bites incurred while travelling to Zika-affected areas. Though the mosquito most associated with Zika has not been found in the city, a related mosquito that is a potential carrier has. The Health Department has to-date completed mosquito treatments in every borough.
“Zika is a national public health crisis, and like any crisis, it requires support from the federal government for municipalities like New York City to sustain ongoing response and planning efforts,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “In the absence of federal funding, the Mayor’s unparalleled commitment to protect New Yorkers from the Zika virus has allowed the Health Department to expand its mosquito control efforts and enhance its testing capacity at the City’s Public Health Laboratory. These are critical in the fight against the Zika virus, but we need Congress to act.”
Due to increasing nationwide concern, New York City recently expanded the criteria for Zika testing, from anyone who recently traveled to a Zika-affected region, to now anyone over the age five who has three or more symptoms associated with Zika. These symptoms include fever, a widespread skin rash, joint pain or conjunctivitis. Though Zika presents with mild symptoms in most people, pregnant women, women seeking to become pregnant and their partners are warned not to travel to Zika-affected areas. Those who have should use condoms or abstain from sexual intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy.
“Although public health experts do not expect that the United States mainland will see the kind of widespread outbreaks that are happening in Brazil or Puerto Rico, that does not mean we can sit by complacently and hope for the best,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “We cannot afford to play politics with the health of the American people. It is time for Congressional leadership to act – and act responsibly. We must put adequate resources toward combating this virus to develop a vaccine and enable states to take precautions like the ones that have been implemented here in New York City by Mayor de Blasio and the dedicated team over at New York City Health. ”