College Point, Flushing and Whitestone will be sprayed from trucks this week to reduce the Zika threat

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The New York City Department of Health is looking to prevent mosquitoes with the potential to carry the Zika virus from spawning in Queens by spraying pesticides in parts of College Point, Flushing and Whitestone.

In order to reduce mosquito activity and the risk of the Zika virus, the Health Department will spray pesticide from trucks in those parts of Queens on Thursday, July 28, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following morning, weather permitting.

According to the Health Department, the boundaries of spraying will be Flushing Bay to the west; Northern Boulevard to the south; Union Street, 143rd Street, 147th Street, and Whitestone Expressway to the east; and East River to the north.

Photo courtesy NYC Health Department
Photo courtesy NYC Health Department

These neighborhoods are being treated with adulticide due to a significant presence of Aedes Albopictus, or Asian Tiger mosquitoes, in traps set by the Health Department.

To be clear, no Zika virus has been found in any mosquito in New York City, the Health Department announced. Although Aedes Albopictus mosquitoes can carry Zika virus, they are also not responsible for the current outbreak of Zika in Latin and Central America. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito, a cousin to Aedes Albopictus which has never been found in New York City, is responsible for the current outbreak.

“While we do not expect to find Zika in New York City’s mosquitoes, we are taking no chances. We are moving forward with a safe but aggressive plan to spray pesticide when we find significant numbers of mosquitoes that could possibly carry Zika,” said. Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Health Commissioner. “New Yorkers should continue to enjoy outdoor activities this summer while taking the usual precautions against mosquitoes, including wearing repellent and reporting standing water to 311.”

The spraying is part of the Health Department’s three-year, $21 million plan to protect New Yorkers from Zika. The department remains cautiously optimistic that Zika virus will not be found in mosquitoes in New York City.

Sections of Staten Island are also slated to be sprayed for West Nile.

For the sprayings in both Queens and Staten Island, the Health Department will use a very low concentration of DUET Dual-Action Adulticide, which when properly used, poses no significant risks to human health.

To minimize direct exposure to the adulticide, the Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions;
  • Air conditioners may remain on. However, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function;
  • Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using again; and
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

In case of bad weather, spraying will be delayed until Monday, Aug. 1 during the same hours.