The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has created a risk-assessment map to show the potential appearance of the Zika-spreading Aedes aegypti mosquito during summer. Miami, Orlando, Houston, New York City and Philadelphia are among the most vulnerable cities in the map.
The agency has been jointly collaborating with public health officials and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, to evaluate which could be the impact of the Zika virus in the country. Findings were published April in the journal PLOS Current Outbreaks.
The map also shows average numbers of arrivals to the U.S. from countries on the Zika travel advisory list, carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Researchers analyzed factors that could interfere to spread the virus, if an outbreak takes place, according to a NASA statement issued Wednesday.
As a result, the map considers temperature, rainfall, and socioeconomic status, combined with number of arrivals. The agency said the government and health care providers should better prepare for possible Zika outbreaks. According to Dale Quattrochi, NASA senior research scientist at Marshal, the map can help institutions to fight the disease.
Most common symptoms of the mosquito-transmitted disease include fever, rash, joint pain, and headache, for most people. However, it can considerably affect pregnant women and elderly adults. The scientific community has found a possible link between the presence of Zika virus in the brain of babies born with microcephaly, said the CDC.
Summer is coming
Researchers found the Aedes aegypti mosquito will probably increase its presence in the southern and eastern U.S. as summer comes. On the other hand, summer weather conditions are propitious for populations of the mosquito along the East Coast, said NASA in a press release.
“There were surprises, such as the northern extent of Aedes aegypti potential survival during the summer months. This suggests that the mosquito can potentially survive in these locations if introduced during certain seasons, even if it hasn’t or can’t become fully established.” Said NASA.
The country needs to take preventive measures against Zika
There haven’t been any reported cases of Zika caused by a mosquito born in the continental U.S. Nonetheless, the mosquito that transmits the disease has already appeared in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.
The CDC has called the Congress to take preventive measures. Last month, senators requested the congress to approve $1.9 billion, for fighting the Zika spread. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton said last week she has sent two of her senior advisors to travel to Puerto Rico on a “fact-finding mission”, in order to determine actions to assist the region.
Source: NASA Press Release