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Giving Compass' Take:
• Alex Smith reports that flooding and extreme weather caused by climate change may cause Missouri's mosquito population to grow, bringing disease that the state is unprepared to cope with.
• How can funders help states impacted by growing mosquito populations cope with the diseases they bring?
• Learn more about the impact of climate change on mosquito populations worldwide.
This year’s catastrophic flooding has created hard times for many people in Midwest, but it’s created a nirvana for mosquitoes.
Kansas City and the surrounding region could potentially become a hotbed for mosquito-borne viruses like West Nile virus in the coming years due to increasing temperatures and more frequent flooding, which are predicted by climate experts.
“Once that flooding [subsides], and you get lots of standing pools of water, then the mosquito populations can really thrive, and you see a real big increase in both the populations and then, in some cases, a disease if there’s a pathogen circulating in the area,” says Cory Morin, an acting assistant professor specializing in zoonotic diseases and environmental health at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the University of Washington.
Some health experts, however, warn that Missouri isn’t prepared to deal with the diseases that they may bring.
West Nile virus, which first appeared in the United States 20 years ago, is already being reported in the Midwest this year, even before the season for it typically begins.
Climate experts say that, along with flooding, parts of the Midwest could also see more drought, or possibly cycle between flooding and drought.
Morin says this, too, could lead to more disease.
“With something like West Nile Virus, drought can be important if it means that bird species, which are the hosts for the virus, come into a lot more contact with mosquito species ‘cause there’s a lot less water sources for them to share, and because of that, they congregate in these small areas, and there’s a lot of opportunities for transmission between mosquito and the birds,” Morin says.
Read the full article about Missouri's mosquito problem by Alex Smith at Harvest Public Media.