By Eden Laikin
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano joined US Senator Chuck Schumer today at Nassau University Medical Center, to call for emergency federal funds to battle the Zika virus, before the U.S. Senate recesses for the summer at the end of this week.
Senator Schumer said he will demand that Congress pass a real funding bill for $1.9 billion to help Long Island and New York City’s latest Zika virus spread.
So far, 20 Nassau County residents have tested positive for the Zika virus – all from travelling abroad. With more than 310 confirmed Zika cases in New York State, including more than 277 in New York City and Long Island, and more than 800 across the United States, the Zika cases are only expected to increase this summer. Long Island and New York City have the most confirmed cases in New York State.
Schumer and Mangano were joined at the announcement by NUMC CEO & President Dr. Victor Politi and Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein.
The emergency federal funds would improve vector control, expand access to family planning and contraceptives, provide for mosquito control programs across the country and accelerate efforts to develop a vaccine. There is currently no treatment or vaccine available for Zika.
“Nassau County is well-experienced in proactively monitoring, investigating and controlling mosquito-borne illnesses,” County Executive Mangano said. “In fact, Nassau’s Department of Health received the Model Practice Award for its innovative program in implementing a mosquito surveillance and control plan.”
The symptoms of Zika virus are generally mild but may include, fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis. Symptoms typically begin 2 to 7 days after a bite from an infected mosquito.
“With the Zika virus spreading to citizens who travel overseas, Federal funds are needed now to treat patients who return home infected, accelerate the development of a vaccine and assist local governments in expanding mosquito control programs.
While all reported U.S. cases of Zika have so far involved people who traveled to areas with a current outbreak, health experts have warned that local transmission cases are likely to occur in the U.S. in the coming weeks during summer mosquito season. With a large Central American population, Nassau County health officials continue to prepare for this virus which causes severe birth defects
Meanwhile, Nassau County goverment’s Zika Action Plan has been underway. Health officials continue the trapping and collection of mosquitoes at 42 sites to prevent the spread of diseases such as encephalitis, including West Nile and Zika viruses. The County’s Public Works officials has treated thousands of street basins, sumps, ponds and hundreds of miles of streams for mosquitoes. They have also treated aerial applications of larvicide over 800 acres of south shore salt marshes near Jones Beach.
Mangano thanked Senator Schumer for his leadership and commitment to public health, and he urged residents travelling overseas to take precautions in light of the spread of the Zika virus.
“Our strongest defense against this public health threat is working together,” he said. “That is why we once again ask homeowners to eliminate any potential mosquito breeding sites around their property.”
Potential breeding sites can occur in: standing water left in containers, flower pot saucers, tires, toys, bird baths, drains and tarps used to cover furniture. Health officials suggest covering skin when long exposure to the outdoors is expected and using EPA-registered insect repellants.
Other confirmed cases of Zika:
- In Suffolk County, there were 20 confirmed Zika cases as of June 2016.
- In New York City, there were 241 confirmed Zika cases as of June 2016.
- In the Capital Region, there were 3 confirmed Zika cases as of June 2016.
- In Central NY, there were 7 confirmed Zika cases as of June 2016.
- In Western NY, there were 2 confirmed Zika cases as of June 2016.
- In the Rochester-Finger Lakes, there were 3 confirmed Zika cases as of June 2016.
- In the Southern Tier, there were 2 confirmed Zika cases as of June 2016.
- In the Hudson Valley, there were 16 confirmed Zika cases as of June 2016.
- In the North Country, there was 1 confirmed Zika cases as of June 2016.
Zika virus is primarily spread to people through mosquito bites. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person who has already been infected by the virus. Schumer said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently confirmed that Zika can be sexually transmitted and that there is a link between Zika during pregnancy and severe birth defects, like microcephaly. Microcephaly is a rare condition in which the baby’s head is abnormally small and can have brain damage. Thousands of infants in Brazil have already been born with microcephaly since last spring. So far, approximately 1.5 million people have contracted the virus in Brazil. Zika virus has spread to more than two dozen countries including the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Saint Martin, Venezuela and others.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito species has spread most of the cases; these types of mosquitoes have been found in Florida and Hawaii. The Asian Tiger mosquito is also known to transmit the virus; these types of mosquitoes have been found in New York and Chicago.