NASA scientists recently released maps detailing the potential spread of the Zika virus throughout the US. Many southern states and other major cities could be at risk. In other words, NASA is once again suggesting that Houston may have a problem.
Reported by CNN, the maps were released within a recently published study in the journal PLOS Currents, which examined 50 different cities within known range of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The female of this species is known to carry Zika, as well as yellow and dengue fevers. The scientists took several factors into consideration to attempt to predict the spread of the mosquitos, including rainfall, temperature, poverty levels, and amount of travel to Zika-infected areas.
As temperature and rainfall increase, so do the chances that the mosquito eggs will hatch. The researchers also reported the abundance of mosquitos throughout a calendar year in certain areas. Not surprisingly, the hotter and wetter parts of the country are more likely to be affected, especially during the warmer months. In fact, nearly all 50 of the identified cities show a low to moderate abundance of the pests by June, and the researchers were surprised to see just how far north the bugs could survive.
Dale Quattrochi, author and NASA senior research scientist at Alabama’s Marshall Space Flight Center, said, “This information can help public health officials effectively target resources to fight the disease and control its spread.” The team who produced the maps worked in partnership with several agencies, including the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, for the purpose of knowing where to focus their efforts for eradicating the problem and providing help to those at risk.