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FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2016, file photo, a female Aedes aegypti mosquito, known to be a carrier of the Zika virus, acquires a blood meal on the arm of a researcher at the Biomedical Sciences Institute of Sao Paulo University in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)

Hurricane Matthew might just help fight Zika temporarily


Although Hurricane Matthew pounded much of the East Coast this weekend, starting with Florida on Thursday evening, the extremely dangerous storm may have one benefit.

The storm could put a temporary halt on the mosquitos that spread the Zika virus, according to CNN.

So far, there have been 141 locally transmitted Zika cases in Florida since the end of July.

So how exactly does a hurricane help alleviate the mosquito situation?

Well, adult mosquitos, including Aedes aegypti, which carry the Zika virus, get washed away by heavy rain.

This means in the first few days to about a week after Hurricane Matthew, the mosquito cycle will be interrupted.

Despite the fact that Aedes aegypti can lay up to 500 eggs in just a bottle's cap worth of water, that likely won't be as much of a concern in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Matthew because those aren't the first mosquitos to reappear.

According to CNN, the first mosquitos to reappear after a storm like this won't be the type that cause a public health concern.

"We associate severe rain events like tropical events and hurricanes with increases in nuisance mosquitoes, not with disease-spreading (mosquitoes)," Ben Beard, chief of the Bacterial Diseases Branch in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, told CNN.

He explained that the heavy rains and flooding will wash away the larvae from Zika-carrying mosquitos.

Beard also added that Hurricane Matthew came at the perfect time because the mosquito population naturally declines at the end of September.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, will still be closely monitoring the situation in Florida.

On the other hand, Dawn Wesson, a professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, said she is still concerned because so many people have lost their homes and will be living in temporary shelters.

Wesson told CNN she is concerned about that because it raised the chances of being bitten by mosquitos once they return.

She added that there was a significant increase in the number of cases of West Nile Virus after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Beard and Wesson both emphasized that it is still extremely important for people to protect themselves against mosquitos by wearing long sleeves and using insect repellent outside. 

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