Zika Fears Prompt MTA to Drain Gross Subway Puddles

Fun day putting larvicide on the tracks. Photo: Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit

Last month, a baby was born in New York with microcephaly, the city’s first to have a Zika-related birth defect. The mother had become infected with the mosquito-borne virus through travel. Just a week later, officials in Florida confirmed Zika had arrived in a Miami neighborhood. Yet even before South Florida’s mini-outbreak — now up to 15 cases — officials across the country were ramping up efforts to eliminate mosquitoes and prevent the potential spread of the disease.

In New York, the MTA is now getting onboard. Transit-agency officials, with Governor Cuomo in tow, said Tuesday that crews will drain standing water from subway stations, and if they couldn’t make those garbage bogs recede, workers would fill them with larvicide to kill mosquitoes. “The ideal is to get the water moving and out of the system,” MTA chair Tom Prendergast said, explaining that the drains get clogged with dirt and grime. He added that the MTA has battled the bugs underground since West Nile worries emerged, but that, overall, mosquitoes haven’t been a huge issue for the subway system. That territory may still belong to a different kind of bloodsucker.