[Environment] MEDICAL: DISEASES: ZIKA VIRUS: New York City Wages War on the Zika Virus

 

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MEDICAL: DISEASES: ZIKA VIRUS:

New York City Wages War on the Zika Virus

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New York City Wages War on the Zika Virus

By MARC SANTORA

August 21, 2016

New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/22/nyregion/new-york-city-zika-virus.html

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It was well after midnight on a hot and sticky weeknight in Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan when the hunt got underway.

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A police car rolled slowly through the empty neighborhood in the predawn hours, its lights casting shadows on the buildings as a voice over a loudspeaker blared a warning to clear the streets.

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Following behind, at six miles per hour, was a white pickup truck carrying men in protective clothing and equipped with a machine intended to cast off a cloud of poison targeting the prey: mosquitoes.

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The droplets would awaken any insects in the area, cause them to take flight and then kill them.

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The spraying is called adulticide  as opposed to larvicide, or killing insects before they hatch  and it was the first time that such a truck had ever rolled through the neighborhood.

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They were taking aim at Aedes albopictus, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito, a relative of the dreaded Aedes aegypti, the main transmitter of the Zika virus around the world.

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While the Asian tiger mosquito has not yet been shown to be an effective vehicle for the spread of Zika, and there have been no locally transmitted cases in New York City, officials are still moving aggressively against the pest.

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We are just trying to kill Aedes mosquitoes, Mary T. Bassett, the citys health commissioner, said in a speech on Friday at New York Law School. We are trying to push down a potential vector without evidence that it is yet a public health threat.

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At the current rate, Zika is on course to infect more than 90 million people around the world in the first wave of the epidemic, according to a study published last month in the journal Nature. That includes about two million women of childbearing age, and it could result in tens of thousands of babies born with devastating birth defects.

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The already dire forecast could become even worse if sexual transmission, so far a proven means of contracting the virus, becomes more common and widespread or if the Asian tiger mosquito emerges as a competent carrier. Even the smallest genetic mutation in Zika could alter the ability for the virus to be spread by that mosquito.

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While it is unclear what course the disease will take, officials say the battle against Zika must be broadly fought to keep the virus at bay. After all, as the country is witnessing in the greater Miami area, a cluster of locally transmitted Zika cases is difficult to stop once it is established.

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The complete article may be read at the URL above.

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