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Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The city isn’t fooling around with the threat of the mosquito-born Zika virus this summer.

For the third time in two months, the Health Department will apply larvicide across marshy areas of Queens this weekend. The aerial spraying will take place from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 24-26, weather permitting.

 

The areas that will be sprayed include Alley Pond Park near Alley Creek, the abandoned Flushing Airport in College Point, Dubos Point and Edgemere Park in the Rockaways, Brookville Park and Kissena Park. The marshy spots are known breeding grounds for mosquitoes; the pesticides target the mosquito larvae.

Mosquitoes are more than just an itchy annoyance for New Yorkers now, as the bugs could potentially carry two serious illnesses that are transmitted through mosquito bites.

The city has been conducting such pesticide spraying across Queens since 1999, when the mosquito-borne West Nile virus was first detected in the U.S.  This year’s spraying comes with a sense of urgency due to the emergence of the Zika virus, the South American malady that can cause paralysis in some and has resulted in severe birth defects in the children of mothers who become infected during their pregnancy.

According to the Health Department, there have been no reported human cases of West Nile so far this year. While some 62 New Yorkers became infected with Zika while traveling abroad in the past year, so far, there are no known cases of the virus being transmitted through mosquitoes in New York.

Even so, the Health Department isn’t ruling out a possible local Zika outbreak because the region is home to a type of mosquito related to the infection-carrying bug responsible for outbreaks in South America.

As the city works to eradicate as many mosquitoes as it can, it is also reminding residents of their responsibility to remove standing water — another known mosquito breeding ground — from their properties.

The Board of Health published this week in the Daily News a resolution declaring standing water to be a potentially fatal public nuisance. Any property owner who fails to remove standing water may receive a violation and a fine of between $600 and $1,200, depending on the severity of the conditions, a Health Department source told QNS. If the situation is not remedied after a violation is issued, the agency may seek a court order to have the water removed.

Residents are advised to call 311 if they see standing water on an unkempt property.

Property owners should remove or regularly drain anything left outdoors that may collect rain water; they should also make sure rain gutters are free of debris.

To further reduce your risk of becoming infected with West Nile or Zika, the Health Department advises New Yorkers to follow these steps:

  • Use an insect repellent, which contains picaridin, DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus (however, not for children under three), or products that contain the active ingredient IR3535.
  • Make sure your windows have screens without any tears or holes.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Keep them empty or covered when not using them; and drain water that collects in pool covers.

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