Zika virus has hit the news headlines in the past few months being associated with the recent rising numbers of microcephaly cases in new-born babies.
A new report has now revealed a potential Zika virus risk facing about 50 cities in the United States in the upcoming summer.
The research has zeroed in major factors that might lead to the outbreak of the virus in some cities in the country during the summer season. According to the study conducted by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the abundance of the mosquito spreading the virus – Aedes aegeypti – is likely to increase(as the weather warms) in several areas of eastern and southern United States.
Nashville, New York and Los Angeles among cities at risk
Stretching from New York along the East Coast up to the far west regions of Los Angeles, and Phoenix, summer weather conditions favor the proliferation and distribution of the aforementioned mosquito. Computer simulations from both NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and NCAR have revealed the likelihood of this mosquito spreading to the above areas; making Nashville a potential city under threat of Zika.
Further analyses of travel programs from areas with Zika outbreaks also reveal that southern Florida cities as well as some areas of southern Texas might be at probable risk. According to Andrew Monaghan, a researcher at NCAR, the research basically identifies potentially vulnerable zones to the virus. This might go well in getting prepared in the fight against the virus.
Not so soon yet so near
The study does not comprise specificity in this year’s prediction of the possible virus attack in the said areas, however, the researchers point out that this summer’s long-term forecast indicate a 40-45% possibility of warmer-than-average temperatures in most parts of the United States. This gives a possibility of creation of more favorable environments for the thriving of the mosquito in the East and South.
Monaghan has, however, maintained that the rate of spread of the virus, if at all that occurs, cannot be compared to that experienced in the Caribbean and Latin America. For one, Americans have well-protected areas of work and living.
Zika virus was first reported in 1947 in Uganda. Despite several control measures put in place, the virus has spread over numerous tropical regions worldwide. Lately affected are the Latin Americans and the Caribbean regions with increasing cases of birth defects and neurological disorders taking toll. With no sufficient proof, Zika virus, however, has been strongly linked to these conditions by a number of scientists.
Further research on human behavior, mosquito biology, weather and human movements should be carried out to prevent future Zika outbreaks.