Astorino Announces Zika Plan

County Executive Robert P. Astorino today presented Westchester’s plan to protect residents from the potential threat of Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases. “Westchester County has a comprehensive plan in place to protect residents from Zika,” Astorino said. “There have been no locally acquired cases of Zika in Westchester. Nevertheless, I want to assure you that Westchester County is working diligently to address Zika. The County’s action plan includes education, surveillance and mosquito control.”

Joined by Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD and Assistant Commissioner for Environmental Health Peter DeLucia at the Kensico Dam playground in Valhalla, Astorino described the county’s strategies and encouraged residents to be proactive at home and on the go to reduce their risks of mosquito bites.

The county’s plan includes:

Giving residents free minnows that can eat mosquito larvae in their backyard ponds and water features.

Applying larvacide to catch basins on county and municipal roads, already covering half the county.

Doubling the number of mosquito trap sites and adding a new type of trap to attract the mosquitoes that could transmit Zika.

Targeting limited areas for ground spraying should a locally acquired case be confirmed or nearby mosquitoes test positive for Zika.

Amler discussed the ways Zika can be transmitted and emphasized that the best way for pregnant women to avoid exposure and the danger to their developing fetus is to avoid travel to areas where Zika is present.  She also shared advice all residents can use.

“Use EPA-registered insect repellents when outdoors, and always follow the label instructions,” Amler said. “Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeve shirts, long pants and socks. Don’t sleep with your windows open, unless the windows have screens in good condition.  Prevent mosquito breeding sites around your home and visit the health department’s website for up to date health information, including our “Keep Healthy and Bug Off” brochure.”

Astorino and DeLucia pointed out objects around your yard or driveway that could provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes, such as old tires, a watering can and a trash can lid.

“Dump them out, scrub them off to remove any mosquito eggs and put them away,” DeLucia said. “It’s also a good idea to clear the leaves out of your gutters. Check your screens and repair any tears to avoid becoming a mosquito’s next meal.”

The Health Department is giving away free minnows for backyard ponds and water features and free larvacide tablets (commonly known as dunks) for birdbaths, planter drip trays, rain barrels and unused pools today through Saturday at the Westchester County Airport, Loop Road, Building 2:

Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

If you miss these dates, to get free larvacide tablets, call 1-888-364-4723.

Residents can report standing water in abandoned pools and elsewhere to the health department at (914) 813-5000.

For more information about Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases, visit health.westchestergov.com.

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