New Danger That May Emerge From La. Floods: Zika

As floodwaters recede, mosquito eggs may hatch—and bring Zika virus to the public
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2016 8:29 AM CDT
Flood-Ravaged Louisiana May Face Zika Next
People wade in water near flood-damaged homes in Youngsville, La., on Sunday.   (Scott Clause/The Daily Advertiser via AP)

As thousands of people deal with treacherous flooding in southern Louisiana, a new danger may enter into the mix: increased risk of a mosquito surge over the next few weeks, and with them, the potential spread of the Zika virus, a tropical medicine expert tells USA Today. Peter Hotez of the Baylor College of Medicine says that mosquito eggs lying around in vessels such as tires and buckets may start hatching en masse once the floodwaters pull back, and if enough of those eggs come from Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti insects, it's going to be "crunch time." Hotez also warns the risk could similarly rise for other diseases linked to mosquitoes, including West Nile. Louisiana so far hasn't had a documented case of Zika contracted locally, though there have been around two dozen cases of travel-related Zika reported there, per the Shreveport Times.

But another expert isn't so sure about the Zika risk. Ben Beard, who helps run the CDC's Zika outbreak initiative, concurs there may soon be a proliferation of the blood-hungry mosquitoes in Louisiana due to the massive flooding, but not necessarily of the Zika-carrying kind, as that variety is tinier and therefore more likely to be swept away with the floodwaters. Meanwhile, Zika is already affecting the Bayou State in another way: Per KENS, blood donors are desperately being sought there because locals who've recently traveled to Zika-affected regions can't give blood for about a month after they've come back from their trip, a logistical issue that, along with other factors, has caused a blood shortage in the state. (The Zika situation in Florida isn't improving.)

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