NASA Releases its Zika Virus Forecast Map
NASA has created a map to better target the future spread of the deadliest animal on the planet, the female Aedes aegypti mosquito.
The map shows the likelihood the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes being present in a given city. It applies factors such as temperature, amount of rainfall, poverty levels and travel to the United States from Zika-affected areas of the world.
The cities in the study with the highest potential risk include Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville in Florida; Savannah, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; Mobile, Alabama; and New Orleans.
But cities further north along the East Coast, like New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C., also run a moderate risk because of the incoming warmer weather.
“The results generally confirmed many of our suspicions about the relative risk of Zika virus transmission in the U.S.,” said Cory Morin, a NASA postdoctoral program fellow with Marshall’s Earth Science Office.
“However, there were some surprises, such as the northern extent of Aedes aegypti (mosquito) 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.”
President Barack Obama has requested $1.9 billion for emergency money from Congress to combat the Zika virus.
The administration has already transferred almost $600 million of unused Ebola funds and other money to fight Zika in the near term, but it says more is urgently needed to control the mosquitoes that spread the virus.
The Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. The World Health Organization has declared the birth defects linked to the Zika virus an international health emergency. Up to 4 million cases of the virus are estimated for the Americas in 2016.