May 7, 2019
The timing of a hurricane is one of the primary factors affecting the spread of mosquito-borne infectious diseases such as West Nile virus, dengue, chikungunya, and Zika, a new study shows.
Researchers developed a mathematical model to study the impact of heavy rainfall events (HREs) such as hurricanes on the transmission of vector-borne infectious diseases in temperate areas of the world, including the southern coastal United States.
In the aftermath of this type of extreme weather event, the mosquito population often booms in the presence of stagnant water. At the same time, the breakdown of public and private health infrastructure can put people at increased risk of infection.
The study, which appears in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, finds that the risk of a disease outbreak is highest if the HRE occurs early in the transmission season, or the period of time when mosquitoes are able to pass on the virus to humans.
According to the study, an HRE that occurs on July 1 results in 70 percent fewer disease cases compared to an HRE that occurs on June 1.