Zika Fears: Rain from Tropical Storm Colin Could Cause Mosquito “Explosion”

Science & Medicine

Parts of Florida experienced heavy flooding last weekend in the wake of Tropical Storm Colin, and health officials are concerned that residual standing water that has collected in large and small containers could cause an explosion in the mosquito population.

Health officials have good reason to be concerned; the Zika virus is expected to spread throughout Florida and other parts of the southern United States this summer, due to high temperatures and stifling humidity. The type of mosquito known to transmit Zika, the Aedes aegypti, prefers to live near homes and breed in small containers. The insect can also transmit dengue fever and chikungunya. [1]

The rain that fell from Tropical Storm Colin wasn’t severe enough for the Orange County Mosquito Control (OCMC) to increase its mosquito-control efforts beyond the normal level for this time of year, but it is asking locals to empty gutters, pool covers, flower pots, cups and tires, and other collectors of rainwater at least once a week. Mosquitoes can breed in fewer than 5 days.

Governor Rick Scott expressed frustration that Congress went on vacation offering the state financial assistance in fighting Zika.

Governor Rick Scott says:

“It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating that Congress went on vacation. As we all know Zika is not going to go on vacation. This summer, with the beginning of hurricane season we’re going to see all this rain, so that’s disappointing.”

On May 11, Scott had been scheduled to attend his own annual hurricane conference in Orlando, but skipped the event to travel to Washington, DC, to ask Congress for money to fight Zika. The federal Department of Health and Human Services had promised support to Scott, but Congress failed to reach an agreement before it went on break for Memorial Day. Lawmakers will return to the Capitol Hill this week.

In a letter to President Barack Obama last week, Scott requested money for more lab space and 5,000 Zika preparedness kits. Obama had requested $1.9 billion to fight Zika in February, but Congress rejected his plea.

In his letter to Obama, Scott said it was “profoundly disappointing” that Congress failed to reach an agreement before the start of hurricane season.

The risk of Zika will be made worse by the Summer Olympics in Brazil. Scott said:

“We’ve got people coming through Florida on their way to South America — more than half of those flights go through Miami. That puts us in danger.” [2]


[1] WFTV

[2] Tallahassee Democrat