CDC Study Shows Mosquitoes Carrying Zika May Spread To New York City
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Federal health officials say the mosquitoes that can transmit the Zika virus may live in a broader swath of the U.S. than previously thought, extending to New York City, but that doesn't mean they'll cause disease here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday 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, CBS2's Alice Gainer reported the CDC now shows the two mosquitoes reaching as far as New York City and San Francisco.
However, New York State and city health officials said the new maps are misleading.
"We've been sampling for over 15 years and have not identified this mosquito known as aedes aegypti here in New York City, but we do know we have its cousin," Hermina Palacio, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services.
Still, officials are ramping up preventative measures.
"We're going to be doing more larvacide, specifically in areas where we know this Asian tiger mosquito can breed," Palacio said.
So far in the U.S. there have been no reported cases of Zika transmitted through a mosquito bite.
MORE: 10 Facts About Zika Virus | More From The CDC
The CDC has reported 273 cases in the U.S., with the vast majority of those coming from people who traveled to Zika-affected countries. Six cases were transmitted sexually.
Experts say the increased range is cause for concern.
"We don't have real mosquito efforts ongoing in a major way in the U.S.," said CBS News contributor Dr. David Agus. "Congress turned down a significant bill to research and fight Zika right before the Easter break and there's going to be issues as mosquitoes start to thrive in the summer months."
A separate report shows mounting evidence of the link between Zika infection and birth defects, in particular microcephaly.
"The New England Journal of Medicine published just last night showed that in a woman who is pregnant the Zika virus lasted in her blood over 10 weeks," Agus said.
The CDC is encouraging women to postpone getting pregnant for up to six months if they or their partners have traveled to Zika-prone areas.
Top health officials gathered earlier this week near Washington for a Zika summit. Congress has yet to approve an emergency request for nearly $2 billion to fight the disease.
"I'm taking money from other areas that we fund in order to fund the very important Zika research, particularly the Zika vaccine research," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said.
The National Institutes of Health is working on half-dozen potential vaccines, but nothing yet.
The New York City Health Departments says it is "aggressively increasing mosquito surveillance and control, and launching a public awareness campaign about mosquito bite prevention."
City officials said its mosquito trapping and surveillance testing program has not detected these types of mosquitoes in 15 years, but they are preparing for all scenarios. They said 14 city agencies went over New York's overall Zika response on Wednesday.
Previous maps were about a dozen years old. CDC officials describe the new ones as its best estimate, and include areas where the mosquitoes have been seen recently or previously.
New York state officials are headed to a federal Zika summit Friday.
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