County, State Health Officials Meet on Zika at Fordham

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Fordham’s Louis Calder Center, the University’s Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y., played host to New York’s state and county health officials for a meeting on mosquito surveillance and the Zika virus on Feb. 22nd.

Sponsored by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), the meeting provided a review of what is known about Zika virus, and allowed for participants to discuss the types of surveillance tools available to monitor mosquito populations in the lower Hudson Valley this spring and summer, focusing on Aedes albopictus, the Asian tiger mosquito, a potential local vector for the Zika virus.

The meeting was part of the NYSDOH’s ongoing effort to advise county health departments on conducting vector surveillance, and included roughly 50 attendees from nine counties, the NYSDOH in Albany, and the NYC Department of Health, as well as graduate students in vector ecology from Fordham.

Bryon Backenson of the NYSDOH ran the meeting, along with Rich Falco, PhD, a NYSDOH employee and co-director of the Vector Ecology Laboratory at Calder.

Falco provided an overview of the Asian tiger mosquito which is becoming more common in the region.

“Mosquito workers from Suffolk County and NYC described their surveillance and control programs, both of which are quite good, and attendees discussed their current mosquito surveillance and educational programs,” said Tom Daniels, PhD, director of the Calder Center and co-director of its vector ecology lab. “Particular emphasis was placed on how the Asian tiger mosquito’s ecology requires a different approach to surveillance than has been the standard for Culex pipiens, the mosquito species most associated with transmission of West Nile virus.”

There are tentative plans for another Zika virus meeting to be held at the Calder Center in early summer to discuss ways that each health department is planning their surveillance programs and to review any new information that will be available on Zika and factors that affect risk.

Daniels said “while we don’t yet have local transmission of Zika anywhere in the United States (all cases so far have been associated with people that had a travel history outside the United States to a place where transmission is occurring), we need to adjust our surveillance and testing of mosquitoes to stay on top of a dynamic situation.”

For more information on the Calder Center, visit their website. For more information on the Zika virus, visit the New York State Department of Health’s website.

 

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