Zika Scammers Put on Notice in New York

     MANHATTAN (CN) — Like mosquitoes, scammers have been swarming New York with dubious Zika-prevention methods that could set the stage for a public-health crisis, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman warned Wednesday.
     Though New York has reported no native mosquito-born transmissions of Zika virus, the state’s Department of Health has reported 52 travel-associated cases in its most recent report, including two pregnant women with laboratory evidence of infection.
     With travel warnings issued for Florida, the Caribbean and most of Latin America, New Yorkers have been taking precautions over the summer, and some companies have been all too eager to profit off public anxiety.
     Schneiderman announced that he sent seven companies cease-and-desist letters telling them to stop misleading consumers or face legal action.
     “New Yorkers are understandably concerned about Zika virus and looking for ways to protect themselves and their families,” he said in a statement. “Unfortunately, some companies are taking advantage of public concern about Zika to peddle products that simply don’t work.”
     From supposedly mosquito-repellent bracelets, wristbands, tablets, ultrasounds and smiley-patch stickers for children, Schneiderman displayed some of the products at a press conference Wednesday morning.
     Gesturing toward a picture of a baby wearing a little wristband, Schneiderman said, “This is about as low as you can go.”
     The attorney general also skewered ultrasound devices that plug into the wall, emitting waves that the manufacturers claim to repel mosquitoes, vermin and, he quipped, “I don’t know what else, gamma rays coming from Martians.”
     “The devices had no significant effect,” Schneiderman said. “In fact, some studies found that the ultrasounds even attract mosquitoes.”
     Schneiderman’s office identified the seven products as Wildheart Outdoors Natural Mosquito Repellent Bracelet, MosQUITo Repellent Bracelet Wristband Band, Neor Mosquito Repellent Bracelet, Kenza High Quality Zika Mosquito Repellent Smiley Patch, Mobile Pro Gear ZIKA Shield Mosquito Repellent Bands, STAR Ultrasonic Pest Repeller, and iGear iGuard 2.0 Ultrasonic Insect Pest Repellent.
     New York’s Health Commissioner Mary Bassett steered consumers towards insect repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and a synthetic ingredient called IR3535.
     Bassett noted that four of New York’s travel-associated Zika cases have been sexually transmitted, and that the state has tested more than 1,000 residents to identify more infections.

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