Some Experts Believe That West Nile Outbreaks Will Only Get Worse

Some Experts Believe That West Nile Outbreaks Will Only Get Worse

The summer of 2012 will be remembered by doctors, entomologists, public health officials and many other experts as a summer that saw a high amount of people contracting mosquito-borne infections. By June of 2012 doctors had already begun to notice an increase in patients testing positive for the West Nile virus in Dallas, Texas. Once July was halfway over, the trend was clear, an unprecedented amount of victims were becoming hospitalized with diseases like the West Nile virus. By the end of the year one thousand one hundred and sixty two people had tested positive for West Nile, two hundred and sixteen were hospitalized for extended periods, and nineteen were dead, all as a result of the virus. This only includes numbers from Dallas, Texas, where a state of emergency had been declared as a result of the many West Nile cases that were reported in the state.

Typically, experts assume that outbreaks of particular diseases will not persist for several years; instead, disease outbreaks are treated like flash-in-the-pan episodes that won’t last more than a summer. However, Dr. Robert Haley, an epidemiologist with the University of Texas at Dallas Medical Center, believes that the recent West Nile outbreaks, especially the one occurring during 2012, are here to stay. Dr. Haley, like several experts, believes that 2012 was a particularly bad year for mosquito-born diseases because the preceding winter had been so short, allowing for the survival of an alarming amount of mosquitoes. 2012 had the warmest winter, the warmest spring, and the heaviest amount of rainfall in ten years.

The warm and wet winter of 2012 was no fluke either, as these conditions are becoming more commonplace with each passing year. When global temperatures rise, then the rate of mosquito-borne diseases will also rise. Even last year the Zika virus was becoming a serious public health crisis. However, when it comes to preventing mosquito-borne diseases, the type of mosquito spreading a disease should not be overlooked. The aedes aegypti is becoming better adapted to living among humans, and the warm weather is causing infected mosquitoes increase like never before. The most common and devastating mosquito-borne diseases are caused by the aedes aegypti.

At the moment, there are many problems concerning mosquito control. For example, the mosquito traps set by disease control agencies are not attractive to the aedes aegypti mosquito. Unless more effective mosquito tracking programs are instituted, the aedes aegypti population will only grow along with the number of diseased individuals.

Do you believe that rates of West Nile will increase in the future? Should mosquito-control be a more thoroughly discussed topic among politicians and the public?


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