Thursday, August 04, 2016

MTA’s new role in Zika fight: Skeeter slayers

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The state of New York is implementing aggressive initiatives to fight the Zika virus and partnering with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to combat the virus in the subway system.

The state Department of Health will team up with MTA to deploy larvicide tablets in standing water within the subway system to decrease the prevalence of potential breeding grounds for the albopictus mosquito.

MTA and the Department of Health will target 36 priority locations to eliminate sources of standing water. The primary focus will be to increase drainage within the stations, while also deploying larvicide tablets as needed. Working with the MTA, the Department of Health will also install new traps to monitor the mosquito population and ensure rigorous testing and reporting of the presence of the albopictus mosquito across the system. Additionally, the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will continue to coordinate with both the Department of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation to aggressively identify and eliminate potential mosquito breeding grounds in parks and recreational areas across the state.

"With six million daily subway customers, the MTA takes public health concerns just as seriously as our operational safety," Tom Prendergast, MTA chairman and chief executive officer said. "Some 13 million gallons of water enters the subway system every day, from precipitation, intrusion of ground water and even the water we use to power clean platforms. The serious threat of virus carrying mosquitos makes it even more important to have clean, functioning drains and adequate pump equipment, aggressive inspection and pumping schedules to remove standing water."

The efforts made by the MTA and Department of Health build on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's six-point plan to combat the virus in the state and include eliminating Zika at its source, aggressively monitoring the Aedes Mosquito with special trapping and testing, providing free Zika protection kits to pregnant women, deploying rapid response teams wherever local transmission is confirmed, issuing emergency regulations requiring local Zika control plans upon virus confirmation and launching a statewide public awareness campaign.

The Aedes albopictus, which can transmit the Zika virus, makes up 3 to 5% of the state's mosquito population.




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