More Zika precautions for Connecticut residents

This 2006 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host. On Friday, Feb. 26, 2015, the U.S. government said Zika infections have been confirmed in nine pregnant women in the United States. All got the virus overseas. Three babies have been born, one with a brain defect. (James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)–  State health officials are warning that 20 percent of all Puerto Ricans are expected to be infected by the Zika virus.  And with a huge Puerto Rican population in New Haven and other major Connecticut cities the state is turning up the volume on the necessary precautions now that the fourth case of Zika has been confirmed in the state.There’s also more concern Friday night because a mosquito that is present in coastal New Haven and Fairfield County has been confirmed in Mexico as a carrier of Zika.

Hundreds of residents from New Haven, Hartford and other major cities travel to Puerto Rico frequently on one of the two daily flights from Bradley to San Juan. Hundreds more take flights from the New York area airports and it is to these frequent travelers, along with vacationers traveling to Puerto Rico and other Zika affected areas that the state will be handing out flyers in both English and Spanish that urge precautions. The Department of Public Health is predicting that one in five Puerto Ricans is expected to be infected with Zika.

“We will encourage pregnant women or women who are planning to get pregnant not to travel to affected areas if their travel can be postponed,” said Dr. Raul Pino, the Connecticut Commissioner of Public Health.  If the travel cannot be postponed public health officials urge extreme precautions in avoiding mosquito bites.

Public health officials say there is zero chance of getting Zika here because the primary carrier, the ‘Yellow Fever’ mosquito cannot live here because of the winters.  But a secondary carrier; the ‘Asian Tiger’ has been detected in state monitoring traps in lower New Haven and Fairfield County for ten years and just last week the Pan American Health Organization announced for the first time that it had detected Zika in ‘Asian Tiger’ mosquitos in Mexico.

“That will represent a more serious threat to those of us here in the temperate regions of the U.S. including Southern Connecticut where we do have the mosquito,” said Dr. Ted Andreadis of the New Haven Agriculture Experiment Station.

The new state budget does cut funding to the Agriculture Experiment Station which is the agency that does mosquito trapping and testing.

“Let me assure you that the monies necessary for the screening and testing will be available,” said Governor Malloy.

For the Connecticut Public Health Department precautions in English, click here and for Spanish, click here.

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