The city's Health Department confirmed this week that there have been at least 233 cases of the Zika virus in the five boroughs over the last few months, more than half of which were contracted by recent travelers to and from the Dominican Republic.
According to the Health Department, 95 Bronx residents, 52 Manhattan residents, 47 Queens residents and 39 Brooklyn residents tested positive for Zika from January 19th to June 24th. 24 of the confirmed patients were pregnant women, which is a serious health concern considering Zika's link to birth defects. Only two patients were diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, an immune disorder that's also been connected to Zika. Both have recovered.
140 people who tested positive for Zika had recently traveled from the Dominican Republic; a handful of others had been to Puerto Rico and Guyana. Earlier this year, the Health Department released a list of precautions New Yorkers should take both while and after traveling to Zika-affected regions—those precautions included wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, using EPA-registered insect repellants, and avoiding unprotected vaginal, anal, and oral sex with their partners for at least two weeks post-travel.
Dr. Mary T. Bassett, the city's health commissioner, told the NY Times that while she's not trying to stigmatize specific groups, she does want to spread awareness among communities that might be more affected by the virus. "It won’t serve New Yorkers well if we create the impression that Zika is a Dominican problem or a Puerto Rico problem or a Guyana problem," she told the paper.
Though it does not appear that any Zika cases have been contracted locally, mosquitos that are known to carry Zika do come to New York (though none with the virus have been found here yet), and the city has been applying larvicides in areas that commonly breed mosquitos in hopes of limiting their numbers.
The Health Department has not yet responded to our request for comment.