As the skies continue to open up and pour in the state of Texas, a new threat has come about, as a result. This year, due to heavy rains, viruses in Texas could spread much like the wildfires did last year. What type of viruses? Mosquito viruses, of course.
Nearly everyone knows by now, after scares of pandemics, that mosquitoes carry deadly viruses like West Nile. However, medical researchers have now stated that Texas residents are in danger of contracting two other viruses, Chikungunya and Dengue.
After getting a sum total of 35 trillion gallons of rain in the month of May, according to sources, Texas has officially ended a five year drought, however, what they have moved into has become a totally different experience for long-time residents. Coming from praying for rain to experiencing high floods, large rains, and closed roads, residents of Texas and visitors as well, may soon also be experiencing the spread of virus.
Chikungunya is a virus which showed up in the Austin and Houston areas in 2014. Those who had contracted the disease had recently been to the Caribbean and luckily the virus did not spread to other Texas residents, last year. However, scientists are looking for the possibility that the virus will arise in Texas and possibly spread this year, especially as the mosquitoes have increased in large numbers, due to heavy rainfall. Chikungunya is not a deadly virus necessarily, but it does cause some severe symptoms, such as excruciating joint pain.
Dengue is a deadly virus. Normally found in the tropics and subtropics, easy bruising, bleeding, and destruction of white cell count can make this virus a killer. Other symptoms include headaches, joint pain, eye pain and rash.
West Nile has been in the United States, longer than the other two diseases. As a virus which originated in Africa, the virus creates flu-like symptoms and can spread easily from one person to the next, which is why it spawned a fear of pandemic proportions, when it first entered America. Though the disease is not always deadly it can be.
Medical researchers are stressing the importance of prevention, but unfortunately the viruses in Texas could spread like the wildfires did last year. In 2014, Texas experienced large amounts of fire, that destroyed houses and land, due to severe drought. Up by Amarillo, Texas, in Hutchinson County most of the residents lost their homes. Sources reported that more than 100 homes were burned, just in that one fire. Add to that the numerous other wildfires that spread throughout the state last year, killing people and destroying properties, then equate that to a possible mosquito virus spread.
If the virus starts in the state of Texas it could very well spread just like the wildfires did last year, except in a manner that is more deadly, especially with the rains that have come this year that have certainly brought in the mosquito population, by the billions (possibly trillions as it is hard to measure). Texas which normally has problems with mosquitoes are now expecting to have an increase in said problem. Medical researchers from the University of Texas state that this is because Houston is a “major air travel hub” that sees imported cases of mosquito virus, all the time. An article by the Huffington Post lists cities in Texas as being in the top ten cities that are “the buggiest,” stating that mosquitoes often bite there, even before the rain.
It is noticeable to residents of Texas, this year, that the mosquito population is on the rise. The author, who lives in Texas, took major notice of this just when stopping on the side of the road. She was getting out of the car to assist her son with his drink in the back seat. Just upon opening the door, the author could feel and see the swarm of mosquitoes. Simply walking around the car to the back passenger side, gained the author several mosquito bites, from head to toe. Other Texas residents are also feeling the swarm. As mosquitoes enjoy and thrive in moist, warm areas, the rains that have come into Texas in 2015 have brought humidity and moisture to a state that is normally dry.
Even with a drought, Texas sees a large mosquito population. The Texas Department of State Health Services stated that 379 cases of West Nile existed last year, with only six deaths, however as West Nile and Chikungunya have already been found in Texas this year, and with the threat posed by other viruses, it is possible that the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses will act like the heat-borne wildfires did in 2014.
Medical researchers are worried, but no one knows how bad a virus spread could be, for certain, if more mosquitoes with viruses come into Texas, and the ones already in the state decide to bite. Of course with summer now starting, and travelers beginning to seek their adventures, the possibility of the viruses contracted by mosquitoes spreading to other states also causes large concern. Especially as the Texas Department of State Health Services says that 80 percent of people who contract West Nile virus will not show any symptoms for a long time after contraction, if ever.
As the warm climate and large rain have already caused humans to be feasted on by mosquitoes, it is possible that the concern is mostly empty. However, as a precaution researchers are warning against going outside without some kind of mosquito repellent. With medical researchers foreseeing the threat that more mosquito illnesses could take hold of Texas or enter the state, it is possible that this year will see more cases of mosquito originated viruses.
By Crystal Boulware
Houston Chronicle: 2 mosquito-borne viruses could spread in Texas this summer
NBC News: Texas Flooding: Here’s a Look at the State’s Rainfall by the Numbers
Huffington Post: Where the Mosquito Bites: The 10 ‘Buggiest’ Cities in the U.S.
USA Today: Texas Panhandle wildfire destroys scores of homes
Texas Department of State Health Services: News Updates