As Louisianans rise to the challenges brought on by heartbreaking, historic flooding, it’s important to be mindful of the risks of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls “the most dangerous animal on earth,” the mosquito.
Receding floodwaters can quickly become the breeding grounds for these tiny carriers of West Nile and Zika viruses. Although Zika is not being transmitted locally in Louisiana, the CDC says it’s probably just a matter of time, and West Nile virus transmission is even more likely. Mosquitoes begin to emerge approximately ten days after their eggs make contact with standing water, a real concern right about now.
Removing standing water wherever possible is a must, and we all know there is plenty of it. Even the state’s abundant backyard “wetlands” – swimming pools – can provide a fertile environment for mosquito larvae to thrive when pools are not adequately chlorinated. Understandably, people may not be focused on swimming pools with so much attention given to cleaning up and rebuilding. By being vigilant about removing standing water (even the small amounts in the trays under potted plants) and maintaining backyard pool chlorine levels, Louisianans protect not only themselves but also their neighbors from potentially disease-carrying predators. Individuals can’t control whether the Zika or West Nile virus will be transmitted by mosquitos in Louisiana. Residents, however, do have control over the steps they can take locally to limit the spread of the disease carrier, mosquitoes.
Chris Wiant, MPH, PhD
President and CEO of the Caring for Colorado Foundation and chair of the Water Quality & Health Council