WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- County Executive Rob Astorino presented Westchester’s plan to protect residents from the potential threat of Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases on Thursday.
Joined by Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler 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.
“There have been no locally acquired cases of Zika in Westchester," Astorino said. "Nevertheless, I want to assure you that Westchester County is working diligently to address Zika."
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; doubling the number of mosquito trap sites and adding a new type of trap to attract the mosquitoes that could transmit Zika; and targeting limited areas for ground spraying should a locally acquired case be confirmed or nearby mosquitoes test positive for Zika.
Amler 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,” she 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 that objects found in yards and driveways – including old tires, watering cans and trash can lids – could provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
“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 at the Westchester County Airport, Loop Road, Building 2, until 6 p.m. Friday and on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Residents can also get free larvacide tablets by calling 888-364-4723.
Residents can report standing water in abandoned pools and elsewhere to the Health Department at 914-813-5000.