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City Health Department Continues Full Court Press Against Zika With Public Forum

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The city health department continued its full court press on the Zika virus with an informational hearing in addition to mosquito monitoring and spraying.

More than 480 New Yorkers have tested positive for the Zika virus including pregnant women.

As 1010 WINS' Al Jones reported those cases were not contracted in New York, they were picked up in Central America, the Caribbean, and South America.

At a public forum on Tuesday night, New Yorkers were educated on precautions, risks, and symptoms of Zika, as well as what the public can do to prevent its spread.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has also launched a new, interactive mosquito information website as part of the three-year, $21 million effort to keep the Zika virus from spreading.

As CBS2's Alice Gainer reported on Monday, the new online tool shows New Yorkers exactly where mosquito surveillance and control operations are happening across the city, as well the mosquito count and recent mosquito control events by neighborhood.

"Every day, members of our mosquito control team are collecting surveillance traps, investigating complaints of standing water, and using our tools to reduce the mosquito population," city Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a statement.

ZIKA INFORMATION FROM THE CDC: Basics | FAQ | Info For Pregnant Women | Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment | More Info | 10 Facts About The Zika Virus

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he hopes for help from the federal government.

"We're going to keep doing what we need to do and spending the money that we need to spend, but we're expecting the federal government to be a partner," Mayor Bill de Blasio said last week.

He urged Congress to return from its recess to authorize $1.9 billion in funding to fight the Zika virus on a national level.

"This is an international health crisis, the responsibility of the federal government," he said. "Just like an international security threat would be the responsibility of the federal government."

The city public forum came as Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced that more new Zika cases not related to travel have surfaced in his state – one of them in a new region.

One patient was diagnosed in Pinellas County on the West Coast of Florida. Officials have not specified where the Zika case was diagnosed in Pinellas County – which includes St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Largo, and Tarpon Springs.

Pinellas County Mosquito Control will head to the area where the person lives and begin testing mosquitoes and eliminating possible breeding grounds, CBS affiliate WTSP-TV, Tampa Bay-Sarasota reported.

Four more new Florida cases were connected to the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami, where Zika has been spotted before.

Last week, five cases were linked to mosquitoes in Miami Beach.

Zika primarily spreads through bites from mosquitoes, but can also be sexually transmitted. Most people won't even know they have been infected by Zika because it often causes no symptoms at all or just mild symptoms.


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