Long Island has the second-most confirmed Zika cases in the state, behind only New York City, according to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, who urged House Republicans Monday to pass an emergency funding bill to halt the spread of the virus before Congress adjourns for the summer.
At a news conference at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the need for action was heightened in Nassau and Suffolk counties, which combined have 46 confirmed cases of Zika.
There are 320 confirmed cases of the virus in the state, including 241 in New York City, according to state and county officials.
“Unfortunately Zika has a bull’s-eye here in the New York metropolitan area and on Long Island,” said Schumer.
At least 24 pregnant women have contracted the virus in New York City, along with eight women in Suffolk, officials said. No pregnant women in Nassau have contracted Zika, said county Health Commissioner Lawrence Eisenstein. All of the Nassau cases, he said, were contracted overseas.
The virus can cause brain damage and serious birth defects in infants born to infected mothers, and can be transmitted sexually and by mosquitoes.
In May, the Senate approved $1.1 billion in Zika-related funding. House Republicans responded by approving $622 million for Zika, but the move was opposed by Democrats because it redirected funds away from Ebola detection and prevention.
A GOP Senate bill last week was rejected by Democrats after Republicans inserted a provision allowing funding for community health centers but not Planned Parenthood.
Congress is set to recess at week’s end until September.
“The House should simply pass the Senate bill, now,” said Schumer, repeating calls he has made in recent months. “We don’t have another week.”
The number of cases “just highlights how important it is to support this funding so we can find that vaccine ... and fund the research, testing and prevention,” said Mangano, who urged residents to take precautions by eliminating standing water and clearing leaves and debris to allow water to flow easily into drainage ditches.
The Asian tiger mosquito, which has been found on Long Island during the summer months, is known to transmit Zika.
Nassau has placed mosquito traps throughout the county but none have tested positive for the virus, Eisenstein said. Suffolk spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said no mosquitoes trapped in Suffolk have tested positive for Zika.
Victor Politi, president and chief executive of the NuHealth system, encouraged residents — particularly pregnant women who have visited Central American countries where Zika is prevalent — to come to the hospital to get tested.
“This is a very damaging and horrible disease for a young child,” he said.