BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Year to date as of yesterday, there have been 334 reported cases of zika in New York according to the New York State Department of Health. Though the mosquito strain that transmits Zika is not in Western New York so far at least two people here have tested positive. (One in Erie County and one in Niagara County.)
“So far in Erie County we have tested 98 people for Zika virus not all the test results are back because Zika virus can be complicated to diagnose, but so far we have 1 confirmed case and 1 suspected case,” said Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health.
Dr. Burstein says because Western New York does not have strains of aedes mosquitoes that can transmit Zika, for the most part we are protected.
“In downstate around the New York City area they do have the aedes strains that theoretically could transmit Cika virus but they don’t have the strains of the aedes aegypti that we know definitely transmit the virus,” said Dr. Burstein.
Doctor Burstein says mosquito surveillance is being done downstate just to be safe, but mosquito surveillance is not part of the public health preparedness plan in Western New York because the mosquitoes in question are not located here.
“So far in the United States in all 50 states we have not had any transmission of the Zika virus however that could change we know that there’s transmission of Zika virus in Mexico, so we anticipate that eventually this will enter the United States,” said Dr. Burstein.
Close to 300 pregnant women in the U.S. have Zika and in Colombia that number is closer to 12,000.
A new study looked at monkeys infected with Zika, and found that the virus lasted longer in pregnant monkeys. Non-pregnant monkeys were virus-free after about 10 days, but pregnant ones had the virus in their blood stream for between 30 to 70 days.
The mosquito borne virus can be transmitted sexually and is especially dangerous for pregnant women because it’s linked to birth defects like microcephaly.
“The best way to prevent getting infected with Zika virus right now if you live in Erie County is to avoid traveling to an area where there is local transmission of Zika virus it’s as simple as that,” said Dr. Burstein.