Experts urge people to be mindful of mosquitoes

(AP photo)

Following a travel warning being issued for Zika-affected areas, the Connecticut Department of Public Health is advising pregnant women, women planning to become pregnant and their sexual partners to avoid parts of downtown Miami, Fl.

"I encourage Connecticut women who are or plan to become pregnant and their partners to avoid this neighborhood, should they be travelling to Miami. While Zika virus causes only mild symptoms in most people, it can have devastating, life-long consequences for unborn children," DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Anywhere in the U.S. where this mosquito is present, there is a risk. That's why we need to track," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Tom Frieden said. "That's why we developed and distributed test kits for public health labs to use throughout the U.S."

Pino said the mosquito suspected of transmitting Zika in this Miami neighborhood are not found in Connecticut.

"Certainly, the guidelines set up by the CDC now limiting travel to the effected area in Miami where we have active transmission going on, is certainly warranted," Dr. Theodore Andreadis, who heads up the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, said.

However, another mosquito, the Asian Tiger Mosquito, has been trapped in eight Connecticut towns, nearly all of them in lower Fairfield County, this summer. The Asian Tiger Mosquito is also capable of transmitting Zika, Pino said.

"To date we have trapped and tested over 117,000 mosquitoes, and thus far we have found no mosquitoes that are carrying the Zika virus and we're not anticipating that we will find them," Andreadis said.

Pino encouraged Connecticut residents "to help control mosquito populations by removing standing water outside homes and eliminating trash, debris and other materials that can collect water and provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes."

"This represents a very small percentage, less than 1/10 of one percent of the total numbers we've collected," Andreadis said. "We are testing these for the Zika virus and once again everything has been negative."

Andreadis said while Connecticut was taking precautions, residents should not be worried.

"I know there is a lot of concern on the part of the public," Andreadis said. "I think the CDC recommendations concerning travel are warranted, but there is no immediate concern here in the state of Connecticut."

Statement from DPH Commissioner on Updated CDC Zika Travel Precautions:— CT Public Health (@CTDPH) August 2, 2016

Pino said 45 Connecticut residents including three pregnant women have tested positive for Zika virus. He added all occurred as "a result of travel to Zika-affected countries or territories in the Caribbean and Central and South America.”

"At the direction of Governor Malloy, DPH has taken additional steps to actively detect any possible local transmission of Zika in Connecticut and will remain vigilant in our efforts to protect Connecticut residents from Zika virus," Pino said.

CDC recently announced an additional $400,000 in federal aid awarded to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. This funding will help get additional trapping and testing including money that will be used at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the funding for fighting Zika in Connecticut is "welcome and needed," however, he added that Congress must "approve the full aid needed nationwide to combat the growing Zika epidemic."

"We are robbing Peter to pay Paul—taking money that could have been used to fight Ebola—and allowing this growing, urgent public health crisis to spiral. Mosquitoes do not know red states from blue, and there should be nothing partisan about fighting this devastating disease. I call on Republican leadership to bring Congress back to Washington immediately to approve the comprehensive aid needed to develop a vaccine and implement effective and comprehensive treatment and prevention programs—including women’s health services,” Blumenthal said in a statement on Tuesday.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy "applauded" the additional funding and said it will "to help Connecticut residents stay informed and protected from the Zika virus."

“I’m glad we’re taking another step to confront this health crisis, but Congress bears much of the blame for Zika’s devastation because we turned down every chance we had to stop it in its tracks. Congress needs to immediately pass a clean, bipartisan emergency funding bill to give doctors and scientists the resources they need to stop Zika,” Murphy said in a statement on Tuesday.

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Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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