New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday that while city dwellers aren’t currently at risk for contracting Zika virus, his administration is “very concerned” about mosquito season come April.
Gothamist reports that although 5 people have tested positive for Zika in New York, all cases originated in Latin American and Caribbean countries; at least 72 people across the U.S. have also tested positive for the virus, which can also be transmitted sexually. From Gothamist:
“We are very concerned about the onset of the mosquito season at the beginning of April,” de Blasio said on Thursday. He added, “We have the most comprehensive response capacity anywhere in the nation. That was clearly on display during the Ebola crisis...New Yorkers should rest assured that the finest medical minds and scientific minds are being tapped to help us address the situation.”
The Aedes aegypti mosquito responsible for the outbreak in several South American countries isn’t native to New York; New York’s Aedes albopictus mosquito has been known to spread the disease, but, via Gothamist:
Dr. Mary Bassett, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said that transmission by this native mosquito is not inevitable, because the mosquito can transmit other viruses, such as chikungunya and dengue, but has not done so in New York City, possibly because the climate does not get quite warm enough.
The Zika virus, as most of us who have been frantically googling for weeks already know, brings with it on its own only mild symptoms and very rarely leads to hospitalization or death. However, the virus is increasingly associated with the explosive outbreak of microcephaly cases in South America, a serious birth defect that leads to abnormally small heads and brain abnormalities; it has also recently been associated with miscarriages and eye abnormalities in infants.
Last week, the World Health Organization classified the Zika virus as an international public health emergency. Since the announcement, several Republican presidential candidates—rather than, say, softening their views on abortion or emergency contraceptives—took the opportunity to bleat nonsensically about a hypothetical quarantine, which experts have said would have “no meaningful impact” on the spread of the disease.
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Image via Associated Press.