The Federal Emergency Management Agency will use military planes to spray chemicals near Houston to help control disease-carrying mosquitoes following Hurricane Harvey, Texas health officials say.
Harvey’s rains flooded the region, and standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, including those that carry the West Nile and Zika viruses.
There haven’t been reports of the viruses in the region, but health officials want to prevent any outbreak and control ‘nuisance’ mosquitoes that could interfere with recovery efforts.
Similar measures are expected to occur in Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
FEMA is using modified Air Force C-130 aircraft to spray chemicals in Houston to help control disease-carrying mosquitoes from breeding in the region following recent storms. Pictured above, Interstate highway 45 in Houston is submerged from the effects of Hurricane Harvey
Similar measures are expected to occur in Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Pictured above, Robert Gonzalez, his wife Maria and son David, 10, survey the flooded Town & Country Drive in front of their home in Kissimmee, Florida on Monday
Texas Health and Human Services spokesman Chris Van Deusen said that spraying begins Saturday evening east of Houston, in Jefferson, Orange and Chambers counties.
Van Deusen said FEMA is using modified Air Force C-130 aircraft to spray the chemicals, which he says don’t pose health risks to humans or pets.
Harvey killed 71 people when the hurricane-turned-tropical storm hit Texas and Louisiana at the end of August.
Since then, stagnant water has exploded Texas’s mosquito population, and its only expected to grow because the insects lay their eggs in water.
Tyler Bennett and a coworker captured cell phone footage of thousands of mosquitoes swarming them in Refugio, Texas.
Refugio, which has a population of about 3,000 people, is about 165 miles from Houston. No one in the town was injured by Harvey, but Refugio is currently without electricity and multiple people have lost their homes.
Mosquitoes swarm a worker in Refugio, Texas after Hurricane Harvey caused an explosion in the insect population
Stagnant water has exploded Texas’s mosquito population, and its only expected to grow because the insects lay their eggs in water. Pictured: Thousands of mosquitoes on a car in Texas
The men were wearing long sleeves and mosquito nets.
They can be heard saying they filmed the mosquitoes because photos ‘didn’t do it justice.’
‘Mosquito populations usually increase greatly after flooding,’ according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mosquitoes are the deadliest animal in the world and are responsible for the deaths of at least one million people a year, according to the World Health Organization. The majority of deaths come from malaria.
Houston was already ‘the mosquito capital of the United States,’ Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor University in Waco, Texas told The Hill.
Mosquitoes can carry dangerous diseases including Zika, West Nile virus, and dengue. Texas had 370 cases of West Nile virus in 2016. It is likely there will be more this year due to the mosquito influx
Texas’ mosquito population was temporarily decimated by flooding, but due to the stagnant flood water and new breeding grounds it has bounced back in enormous numbers.
Mosquitoes can carry deadly diseases including West Nile virus, dengue fever and Zika.
West Nile has been in Texas since 2002, and the state had 370 cases in 2016.
A study done one year after Hurricane Katrina in 2006 found that cases of West Nile virus had more than doubled in places that had been affected by the storm.
‘Most of these mosquitoes are considered nuisance mosquitoes and will not spread viruses,’ the CDC said. ‘However, some types of mosquitoes could spread viruses like Zika, dengue, or West Nile.’
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM MOSQUITO BITES
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with any of these active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone.
- Always follow the product label instructions.
- Reapply insect repellent as directed.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
- Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Use air conditioning when available.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention