With all the rain and flooding Isaac has left behind, some are worried the near record-setting number of West Nile cases in the US will increase. Stagnant, pooling water is a breeding ground for algae, a source of food for mosquito larvae.
WestNile reports an increase in the mosquito population is expected in the areas affected by Hurricane Isaac. This is due to the fact standing of water providing easy breeding grounds. A higher mosquito population means the potential of more West Nile carrying mosquitoes and an increased risk of humans becoming infected with the disease.
On Wednesday, Aug. 29th, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) told CBS News they did not expect Isaac to worsen the West Nile virus outbreak. Dr. Lyle R. Petersen, the CDC's director of the division of vector-borne infectious diseases, said although there was a small increase in West Nile cases after Hurricane Katrina, weather events like Katrina and Isaac often disturb the ecology of the areas affected by the storm, which in turn interrupts the cycle of transmission between birds and mosquitoes. However, on Sunday KCEN TV reports the CDC is now saying they are worried about what is lingering in the standing water left by Issac.
According to Reuters, there were a total 1,590 cases of West Nile virus at the end of August. Of those 1,590 cases, 66 resulted in deaths. That was a jump of more then 470 reported cases and 25 deaths from the previous week, representing a 40 percent increases in infections and a 61 percent increase in deaths. The record number of cases was 9,862 in 2003. That same year saw a record setting 264 deaths.
CDC map of reported cases of West Nile virus
Texas has been the state seeing the highest number of reported cases, 45 percent in all. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services says the state has had 783 cases with 31 deaths according to Examiner.com. Although 48 states have reported cases of West Nile virus, Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Michigan has reported 70% of the cases.
WPTV reports Palm Beach County is not taking any chances. The county has hired a private aerial mosquito company to begin spraying the 270,000 acres of the county, some of which still has significant flooding, in hopes it will prevent an increase in the mosquito population.
Denton County Texas has also begun spraying for mosquitoes in the wake of Hurricane Isaac according to Denton Record-Chronicle. McKinney, TX has begun a spray program as well, and Natchezdemocrat.com reports Natchez Mississippi officials are in the process of accepting bids from companies to spray for mosquitoes.