“Aedes aegypti, the species that transmits Zika, dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya, has moved northward in the U.S. by roughly 150 miles per year.” – Philip Stoddard, Florida International University
Man vs. mosquito: At the front lines of a public health war
publicintegrity.org – In humanity’s battle against the mosquito, Philip Stoddard sees a clear victor.
“The mosquitoes are winning, and everything else is losing,” said Stoddard, whose roles as a biologist at Florida International University and as mayor of South Miami collided in July 2016 when the state became ground zero for America’s first outbreak of Zika, a virus that can cause severe brain defects in unborn babies.
Mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika have increased almost tenfold nationally from 2004 to 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That’s put local governments at the front lines of a contentious public health war ― one that climate change will only worsen.
A 2016 report by Climate Central found warming temperatures coupled with more humid days have elongated mosquito seasons.
By 2050, researchers predict, almost half the world’s population will be exposed to at least one of two major disease-carrying mosquitoes. Scientists are also concerned about the growing threat of resistance, which undercuts the effectiveness of insecticides.
Mosquitoes are not a new enemy. Historian Timothy C. Winegard estimated in a 2019 book that the winged insects have killed more than 52 billion people ― making them humanity’s “deadliest predator” with far more casualties than all recorded wars combined.
Malaria, now seen as a mostly tropical disease, was rampant in the U.S. until a federal program run by an early version of the CDC eliminated the illness domestically by 1951.
That program made heavy use of DDT, a now-banned insecticide that is toxic to mosquitoes but also to birds, bees and humans.
Today, the herculean task of managing and tracking mosquitoes falls largely to local mosquito control districts … Read more.
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