By Gina Martinez
In an attempt to stop the Zika virus from spreading in Queens, the city Department of Health has scheduled pesticide spraying in parts of Elmhurst, Hunters Point, Masbeth, Sunnyside and Woodside. The agency will spray pesticide from trucks on Thursday, Aug. 4, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. the following morning, weather permitting, according to the DOH.
Queens neighborhoods are being sprayed because of a significant presence of Aedes Albopicus, also known as Asian Tiger mosquitoes. The Zika virus has not been found in any mosquito in New York City, but the Asian Tiger can carry the virus. The spraying is being used as a preventative measure, although Asian Tiger mosquitoes are not the kind responsible for the current outbreak in Latin and Central America, the DOH said.
Health Commissioner Dr.. Mary T. Bassett is confident that the Zika virus will not be found in New York mosquitoes and wants New Yorkers to continue on normally.
“While we do not expect to find Zika in New York City’s mosquitoes, we are taking no chances.” she said. “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. 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 city has a three-year, $21 million plan to protect New Yorkers from the Zika virus. The Health Department will spray areas with significant number of Asian Tiger mosquitoes as a precaution. For the spraying of Queens the DOH will use a low concentration of DUET Duel-Action Adulticide, which when used properly, poses no harm to human health, the Health Department said. To avoid direct exposure the DOH recommended staying indoors, if possible during the spraying, and to remove children’s toys and equipment from outdoor areas during the spraying.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is also taking action to combat Zika in New York. Cuomo teamed up with the MTA and DOH, which will be deploying larvicide tablets to standing water within the subway system to eliminate breeding grounds for Albopicus mosquito.
“At Gov. Cuomo’s direction, we are stepping up our efforts to clear standing water ,which could breed virus-carrying mosquitoes, and to treat areas that might allow breeding so that our passengers can travel the subway system confident that we taking all necessary preventive steps to protect them.” said Tom Prendergast, MTA chairman and CEO.
Additional measures include ramping up distribution of larvicide tablets to home owners and providing Zika protection kits to pregnant women at health clinics across the state.
“The Zika virus remains a dangerous public health threat, and New York state continues to pursue every possible measure to combat it.” Cuomo said. “By enlisting the cooperation of state agencies and New Yorkers, we are taking aggressive action to help reduce the prevalence of mosquito breeding grounds across the state and stop this disease at its source. As the Zika situation continues to evolve, we will remain vigilant and strengthen our prevention efforts to safeguard the public health and safety of all New Yorkers.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart