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Nassau County Officials Announce Zika Virus Action Plan

MINEOLA, NY (CBSNewYork) -- Officials in Nassau County announced a plan Wednesday to fight against mosquitoes and the Zika virus.

County Executive Ed Mangano and County Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein unveiled the initiative called the "Zika Action, Mosquito Trapping and Surveillance Plan."

As part of the plan, officials said the Department of Health has started trapping and collecting mosquitoes at 42 sites across the county to help prevent the spread of Zika and West Nile.

The Department of Public Works is also ready to treat ponds, sumps, street basins and fresh water streams for mosquitoes and apply larvicide to salt marshes.

"Nassau County has an award-winning comprehensive mosquito surveillance and control plan to protect our residents from diseases," Mangano said in a statement.

Public awareness is a big part of the county's plan. Officials are urging residents to cover up, use insect repellent and eliminate standing water on their property.

"If people take care of their property, there's a good chance they won't be exposed to the types of mosquito that carry Zika," Eisenstein said.

"I once again ask homeowners to eliminate any potential mosquito breeding sites around their property, and to report any concerns of standing water to the Nassau County Department of Public Works," Mangano said.

Nassau health officials said pesticide spraying like that used to control the West Nile virus could be next if the mosquito population grows too large, CBS2's Vanessa Murdock reported. A travel advisory to the 22 nations battling the Zika outbreak remains in effect.

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For most adults, the effects of Zika are not very severe, but for pregnant women, it can cause microcephaly and other severe birth defects. Zika is commonly spread by mosquitoes and can also be contracted through sexual contact.

So far, there have been at least 114 cases of Zika in New York state, with more than a dozen of them involving pregnant women.

"Nassau County continues to advise residents to heed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) travel alert, advising pregnant women to avoid travel to countries where there is known transmission of Zika virus," Eisenstein said in a statement. "The CDC recommends that males who have traveled to or live in areas with active Zika virus transmission and are sexual partners of pregnant women, abstain from sex or consistently and correctly use latex condoms for the duration of the pregnancy."

In April, the CDC posted new maps of the estimated range of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, and a related cousin, on its website. Instead of just being in the southern part of the country, the maps now show the two mosquitoes reaching as far as New York City and San Francisco.

Nassau officials said the Aedes Albopictus, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito, is a possible transmitter of Zika and is present in the county during mosquito season.

Last week, the Senate voted in favor of a bipartisan $1.1 billion measure to combat Zika this year and next. House Republicans say they're only willing to sign off on half of the funding approved by the Senate.


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