NEW CITY, N.Y. – Rockland has been proactive about mosquito control ever since West Nile reared its ugly head in the late 1990s, but this year -- with the scary Zika virus looming -- the stakes are even higher, says County Executive Ed Day.
Day and local health officials recently toured the debris-ridden yard of an abandoned home in Chestnut Ridge to point out all the places the flying, needle-nosed menaces like to lurk.
Along with Rockland Commissioner of Health Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, Day and others warily examined puddles and pockets of stagnant water for signs of wriggling mosquito larvae.
The state Department of Health is providing Rockland with 23 traps designed to capture Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which can transmit Zika, so they can be tested, the county executive said.
"We are prepared for whatever happens this summer," he added.
The World Health Organization this winter declared a public health emergency after the Zika virus was connected to a rare birth defect that causes babies to be born with unusually small heads.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so far there are no locally acquired cases of Zika in the United States.
However, more than 500 cases associated with travel outside the United States have been recorded, the CDC said.
There are 45 countries and territories worldwide with active Zika transmission, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the CDC.
Aedes albopictus mosquitos are found in Rockland County and six other counties in New York, health officials say.
The special traps will be used to make Rockland “as inhospitable to mosquitoes as we can," Day said.
Residents can do their part by removing things that might collect water, such as an empty flower pot, old tire, or wheelbarrow.
Even an empty soda can or bottle cap can become a breeding ground for the pests, he said.
"Do this now and do it regularly during the warmer months when mosquitoes are active," Day said.
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