Mosquitoes Pose Potential Health Threat at U.S.-Mexico Border

From U.S. News
April 5, 2019

ILLNESSES SUCH AS mumps, flu and chickenpox among migrants detained in America or sheltered at the U.S.-Mexico border have raised concerns surrounding their treatment and care. But as temperatures warm up, there’s another potential health threat looming for travelers into and out of the U.S., migrants or not: mosquitoes.

Kacey Ernst, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Arizona who primarily studies mosquito-borne illnesses as well as some vaccine-preventable diseases, says among her concerns is the possible transmission of tropical diseases such as dengue and Zika to highly susceptible populations.

“It’s really a two-way street. Infections don’t know a lot of boundaries – there’s not a border wall for the mosquitoes or flu – it’s very porous,” Ernst says. “We live in a really global world, so travel is a key risk factor for diseases spreading across multiple regions.”

Ernst recently spoke to U.S. News about real and potential health threats as spring brings warmer weather. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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