New York State Department of Health Reminds New Yorkers to Take Precautions Against Zika Virus and Other Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Emphasizes Travel Safety; Highlights Continued Action on Zika Virus Prevention

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 12, 2017) - The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) today reminded New Yorkers that with the arrival of warm temperatures, they need to take precautions against Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses. New Yorkers are encouraged to prevent mosquito bites and be especially attentive to all mosquito protection measures when traveling to areas affected by Zika.

"New Yorkers must remain vigilant to prevent the transmission of Zika and other illnesses carried by mosquitoes," said Dr. Howard Zucker, New York State Department of Health Commissioner. "Avoiding unnecessary travel to Zika affected areas and applying insect repellent are some of the most effective tools for at-risk individuals in the fight against Zika. New York State will continue our aggressive, first-in-the nation Zika Action Plan to help stop the spread of this dangerous disease and safeguard the public health."

Since last year, New York State has taken extraordinary steps to address the Zika virus, including offering comprehensive testing of both blood and urine from pregnant women anytime during the pregnancy.

These actions complement the State's ongoing aggressive commitment to fighting Zika outlined in Governor Cuomo's comprehensive Zika Action Plan. The state has made significant progress in all points of the plan:

  • Eliminating Zika at its source: To date, more than 44,000 mosquito dunks purchased by the state have been distributed to residents and business owners, and the NYSDOH has educated communities on the importance of reducing water sources for mosquito breeding;
  • Monitoring through trapping and testing: Over 20,000 Aedes albopictus mosquitoes were collected and tested with no positive tests for Zika during the most recent mosquito season;
  • Providing free Zika Protection Kits to pregnant women: More than 17,000 kits have been distributed to low-income women statewide;
  • Issuing emergency regulations and requiring local action plans: All 57 Zika action plans submitted by local health departments have been reviewed and implemented;
  • Deploying Zika Rapid Response Teams: Over 100 NYSDOH staff have been trained and recruited, with staff prepared for deployment wherever local transmission of the virus is suspected;
  • Launching a digital and billboard-based public awareness campaign this week which emphasizes travel safety and mosquito bite prevention for pregnant women and women of childbearing age who are likely to travel to Zika-affected areas; and
  • Providing full time medical expert phone consultation about Zika testing and prevention for the public and health care providers, and offering multiple webinars for local health departments and providers.

Although Zika virus has not been transmitted by local mosquitoes in New York State, Zika has been acquired by New Yorkers who have traveled to countries with high Zika transmission rates. Zika is particularly concerning for pregnant women due to increased risk of microcephaly, a birth defect associated with the virus.

The main species known to spread Zika is the Aedes aegypti,not currently present in New York State. However, a related species, Aedes albopictus, is found in the lower Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island, and may also transmit Zika virus. The NYSDOH is working with local health departments to aggressively monitor the distribution and abundance of Aedes albopictus within the State.

Only one in five people infected with Zika virus will get sick, and the symptoms are usually very mild, including fever, rash, joint pain or conjunctivitis (red eyes). However, there have been infections among pregnant women and their partners, which is a serious concern for unborn babies. Zika is not spread from person to person by casual contact. To date, the only cases in New York State are in people who acquired the virus while traveling to Zika-affected areas, or through sexual transmission from someone who had traveled to those areas.

As of May 3, 2017, scientists at NYSDOH's Wadsworth Center labs have received specimens for Zika virus testing for 10,505 individuals. To date, the total number of Zika cases in New York State is 1,370. NYSDOH has also been providing information on pregnant women with any laboratory evidence of possible Zika virus infection to the CDC's Zika Pregnancy Registry. By reporting this critical information, New York State is assisting with national and international Zika response and prevention efforts.

NYSDOH also maintains a Zika Information Line (1-888-364-4723) Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for those who have questions about Zika, such as how to get tested. The hotline has received over 6,500 inquiries since being implemented in early 2016.

NYSDOH works with local health departments to identify mosquito-borne viruses that pose a risk to human health, including West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus, and Zika virus. Activities include training personnel on mosquito trapping and species identification; testing of mosquitos, humans and animals by Wadsworth Center; identifying areas with disease risk; and providing surveillance information to guide local decision-making on prevention and control measures.

More detailed information about Zika, areas where Zika is prevalent, and how individuals can protect themselves is available at

More detailed information about West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne diseases and how individuals can protect themselves and their families is available at

Details on Governor Cuomo's Six-Step Zika Action Plan can be found at