ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York state has confirmed 537 cases of Zika so far — though officials say all appear to be connected to travel to affected areas and there’s no evidence the virus is spreading through local mosquitoes.
Of those cases, 414 were in New York City and 123 were upstate. Nearly all of them involved people who had visited regions affected by the mosquito-borne virus; five cases were sexually transmitted.
While the specific mosquito species known to spread Zika is not native to New York, a related species is present in downstate areas.
The state is taking the threat seriously, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state health Commissioner Howard Zucker, who briefed reporters on the latest Zika statistics Tuesday in Manhattan.
“The best way to handle a crisis is to prevent it,” said Cuomo, a Democrat, who said public agencies are also working to eliminate any standing water in subway tunnels or on state-owned properties.
Residents can reduce the risk by eliminating standing water and using larvicide to kill young mosquitoes, officials said. They also encourage people to wear repellent and long sleeves when outside, particularly during the day.
The state is distributing free larvicide, as well as kits for pregnant women that include repellent, condoms and information about the virus. The state is also providing testing to pregnant women at risk of exposure to the virus, which has been linked to birth defects.