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Photo: Day Donaldson/Flickr
Photo: Day Donaldson/Flickr
Aedes albopictus is the cousin of the mosquito that is responsible for the Zika outbreak in Latin America and is also indigenous to New York.

Residents of northeastern Queens are in for the fifth and largest pesticide spraying effort in order to prevent the spread of Zika.

The NYC Department of Health announced yesterday that it will be conducting its fifth and largest pesticide spraying effort Queens has seen this year in order to reduce the risk of Zika and West Nile virus. This precautionary effort is part of its three-year, $21-million plan to curb the population growth of vectors for the Zika virus, as well as the West Nile virus.

 

Pesticides will be sprayed in specific areas on Wednesday, Aug. 17, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. If the weather is not permitting, then the plan will be postponed to Thursday within the same hours.

The spraying will occur in parts of Auburndale, Bayside, Corona, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Murray Hill, Pomonok and Queensboro Hill.

A low concentration of DUET pesticide will be used for the spraying. It poses no significant risks to human health, the health department assures. However, it is recommended that people living in the targeted areas take some safety precautions.

During spraying, residents should stay indoors if at all possible; this is especially important for those who suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems. Also, it is advised to limit air conditioner use during the spraying and to wash anything or anyone that has been exposed to the pesticide with soap and water.

The spraying is not in response to an actual Zika outbreak, but due to the rise of Aedes albopictus, a type of mosquito determined to be a potential Zika carrier. Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said that the Health Department is “taking no chances” when it comes to Zika and confirms that this “safe but aggressive plan” is only to target possible carriers of the virus wherever they are spotted.

It is also important to note that Aedes albopictus, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito, is not responsible for the outbreak that is occurring throughout Latin America and that it is actually a cousin of this mosquito, Aedes aegypti, that is responsible. Luckily, this mosquito is not indigenous to New York. However, the Culex mosquito, which is known to transmit West Nile virus, has been indigenous to the New York area since 1999 and there has been an increase in West Nile virus activity in Queens.

Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett encourages New Yorkers to “continue to enjoy outdoor activities this summer while taking the usual precautions against mosquitoes.”

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