The Houston area got pounded by Hurricane Harvey, but the record-setting flooding may be bringing yet another headache: the city could be overwhelmed by mosquitoes.
All of the standing water left from the storm is the prime place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs and hatch more winged pests. Harris County, home to Houston, is taking preemptive measures to try and head off a potential mosquito boom.
On Thursday, the U.S. Air Force will fly cargo planes spraying insecticide over 600,000 acres.
“The goal is to reduce the effects mosquitoes are having on recovery efforts and the possibility of a future increase in mosquito-borne disease,” said Harris County public health director Dr. Umair A. Shah.
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The county said the insecticide is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and “is considered safe for the environment.” However, the county recommended people stay indoors during the evening as the aerial application occurs. Beekeepers may also wish to cover their colonies.
Before the storm even struck, Houston authorities warned the city would likely have to contend with an influx of biting visitors. Dr. David Persse, physician director of Houston's EMS and Public Health Authority, told CBS News the storm would initially decrease mosquito presence because the storm would wash away breeding sites.
“But that'll be only about 10 to 14 days, and then we're gonna have an explosion of mosquitoes 'cause there's so much standing water which is all breeding sites,” Persse said.
Mosquitoes after hurricanes have also been a concern in Florida, which too is recovering from the effects of a monster storm. After Hurricane Matthew, which hit the state last fall, there were over 1,000 complaints about mosquitoes in St. Johns County, according to News 4 Jax. As a result, 60,000 acres were aerial sprayed to help combat the insects. Before that, the company conducting the work said it had been more than 10 years since ground spraying was ineffective enough to merit aerial measures.