This summer expect the Zika virus to not only begin to affect certain parts of the U.S. but to also spread.
The virus is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. According to a study just published by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), out of Boulder Colorado, the Aedes aegypti mosquito will most likely become more abundant in southern parts of the United States, especially during the upcoming warm summer months.
But surprisingly, this mosquito is also projected to show up in more northern locations. According to NCAR computer simulation projections, our upcoming summertime weather conditions will be favorable for this mosquito to appear as far north as New York City on the east coast and along a southern route as far west as Los Angeles.
Denver has been labeled as having low to medium conditions for this Zika virus-carrying mosquito this year. This means that although conditions in the Denver area are not favorable for a continued presence of this mosquito, mainly due to our cold winter and altitude, it can be introduced during the upcoming summer via imported used tires and human activity.
And once introduced, it can potentially thrive until cold weather moves in during the late fall months.
The hope is that these projections showing a potential fast spread of the Aedes aegypti mosquito through parts of the U.S. will also lead to more awareness of the need to protect against it during the spring, summer, and fall time periods. This includes a combination of individual protections from mosquitos as well as continued larger scale surveillance and mitigation to minimize the risk of transmission of the Zika virus.
This study also makes the point that all of these projections are based on the Aedes aegypti mosquito and could worsen if a second type of mosquito, the Aedes albopictus, starts carrying the Zika virus in the United States. This mosquito can survive in colder temperatures so could potentially gain a stronger foothold in more northern cities.
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