New York health department crews spray for mosquitoes

On August 17, crews from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene sprayed for mosquitoes in Manhattan and Queens.

On Aug. 17, crews from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene sprayed for mosquitoes in Manhattan and Queens, CBS New York reported. Personnel from the agency released pesticides between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and targeted Aedes aegypti and Asian tiger mosquitoes, the species known for carrying the West Nile and Zika viruses. 

The spraying was part of New York's long-term strategy for preventing the spread of Zika, WABC-TV reported. So far, the plan has proved fairly effective. Approximately 487 residents were infected with the virus while overseas and an additional 4 caught it from sexual partners. None have contracted the Zika virus from local mosquitoes. 

"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," New York Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett told the news station. "New Yorkers should continue to enjoy outdoor activities this summer while taking the usual precautions against mosquitoes, including wearing repellant and reporting standing water to 311."

Recently, officials expanded the strategy to account for the possible sexual transmission of the virus, according to The New York Times. Currently, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is hosting informational sessions for women at a clinic in Midtown Manhattan. Health workers brief participants on the birth defects that usually accompany the disease and offer them screening services. So far, the center has tested more than 3,000 pregnant women in the city. The sessions are held in English and Spanish.

Public health officials say such education is crucial, as it can prevent a handful cases from turning into a citywide epidemic.