Hurricane Harvey increases public health threat from mosquitoes

August 31, 2017

By Alex Branch

Lee
 
Floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey are expected to remain in southeast Texas for some time. Among the public health concerns is how stagnant water could impact the mosquito population and potential transmission of associated diseases.

UNT Health Science Center’s medical entomologist Joon Lee, PhD, Associate Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology in the School of Public Health, answered three questions about the risks.

Q: What impact could Hurricane Harvey have on the mosquito population?

Dr. Lee:  In the short term, the news is good. Hurricane Harvey should have washed away immature     mosquito populations from their breeding grounds. But mosquitos can rapidly reestablish themselves in stagnant water. That means their population will likely explode with the large increase in available breeding grounds.

Q: How soon could that explosion occur?

Dr. Lee:  It is very likely that within two weeks, the mosquito population will return in large numbers and remain for at least a month or two. The weather and availability of effective public health measures during the recovery could impact the size and length of mosquito explosion.

Q: What are the biggest public health concerns caused by a mosquito explosion?

Dr. Lee: Wherever a disaster occurs, the public health system responsible for responding to increases in mosquito activity and associated disease transmissions is usually weakened or lost. Meanwhile, people who suffer from that disaster may have weakened immune systems that increase their susceptibility to disease or hinder their ability to recover.

Increased transmission of potentially-life threatening, mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis are the biggest public health risks. Outbreaks of Zika, dengue fever and Chikungunya also are possible, although transmission of those diseases must originate from a person who is already infected.

Hsc Tcom Gold Humanism Society Inductees Fc
TCOM Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society welcomes new inductees 

By Steven Bartolotta The humanistic side of medicine is alive and well at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. The TCOM Chapter of the Arnold P Gold Foundation inducted 45 students and four faculty members into the Gold Humanism Honor Society on the campus of The University of North Texas H...Read more

Jun 15, 2021

John Licciardone Hsc Fort Worth Fc
eHealth interventions could help African-American patients in battle with chronic pain

By Steven Bartolotta The PRECISION Pain Research Registry at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth has identified important racial disparities in pain management that became more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its study recently published in the special COVID...Read more

Jun 14, 2021

Diana Cervantes. Assistant Professor Biostatistics & Epidemiology
Dr. Diana Cervantes named among Fort Worth’s ‘most influential’ for public health service during the pandemic

By Sally Crocker Dr. Diana Cervantes has spent the last year keeping people informed and updated on all things coronavirus, and now she’s being recognized as one of Fort Worth Inc.’s “400 Most Influential People” for helping protect the community’s health during the pandemic. Dr....Read more

Jun 8, 2021

Opal Lee photo by Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Celebrating Juneteenth

By Diane Smith-Pinckney On June 19 1865, Major General Gordan Granger marched into Galveston with a critical message: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”  This was the opening se...Read more

Jun 8, 2021