Elected officials and health experts on Long Island are calling for the federal government’s help in fighting a breed of mosquito known for carrying the potentially deadly dengue fever virus.
As WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reported, Rep. Steve Israel, D-Huntington, was among those who held a news conference Monday in Port Washington asking for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assist local governments in battling the Asian tiger mosquito.
The mosquito is particularly dangerous, Israel said.
“It feeds during the day,” he said. “It bites outdoors or indoors. And it does not require standing water to breed.
“You can be in your house, and an Asian tiger mosquito can bite you, infect you and give you dengue fever. This is a relentless mosquito.”
The Asian tiger mosquito has been found on Long Island. None, however, were found to be carrying the dengue virus, which is most prevalent in the tropics and subtropics.
Israel told 1010 WINS he sent a letter to the CDC asking for technical and financial assistance for state and local governments, laboratory expertise and help educating the public.
Dr. Bruce Hirsch, an infectious disease specialist at North Shore University Hospital, said the mosquitoes are expanding their range.
“This is a time where we have to consider diseases from all over the globe,” Hirsch said. “We are a small and shrinking world.”
According to the CDC, the symptoms of dengue fever include high fever and at least two of the following: severe headache, severe eye pain, joint pain, muscle and/or bone pain, rash, mild bleeding manifestation (such as nose or gum bleeding or easy bruising) and a low white cell count.
Monday’s news conference was the second in two days in which an elected official requested the CDC’s help dealing with a mosquito-related issue.
On Sunday, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., asked the agency to issue a health alert to medical professionals nationwide for identifying, treating and containing the chikungunya, or “chik-v,” virus, a mosquito-borne illness.
Schumer said he was concerned Americans returning from the World Cup in Brazil, where a mosquito known for carrying the virus is prevalent, could potentially bring back the virus.