Public health experts say Hurricane Matthew left pools of stagnant water ripe for mosquito breeding in areas that were already vulnerable to the breed linked to the spread of Zika virus.
In Florida, where all 105 of the locally acquired cases of Zika reported have originated, health officials last month found mosquitoes that tested positive for the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fortunately Miami-Dade County—where the first local cases of Zika infection were reported—was spared the heaviest rainfall from the hurricane.
Still, efforts toward containing the virus will likely be on hold there while the region attempts to clean up and address more pressing public health matters such as water contamination.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there was a spike in the number of cases of West Nile reported in Louisiana after the floods subsided. Despite evacuation efforts that led to a 28% decline in the population, the number of West Nile cases jumped from an average of 30 in 2005 to 45 in 2006. In affected parts of Mississippi, the number of reported cases rose from an average of 23 in 2005 to 55 in 2006.