People in poverty are at highest risk of getting mosquito-borne diseases

In USA Today

by Liz Szabo

There’s no mystery about how the mosquitoes got into Shawanda Holmes’ former home. They flew through a gaping hole in the wall.

One of the wooden boards on the side of the house is partly missing, covered only by a loose, blue plastic tarp that flows down the outside wall and crumples in a heap on the grass. Rainwater pools in its folds, providing an ideal site for mosquitoes to breed. Trash fills the backyard.

Holmes’ home had no air conditioning, and she was afraid to plug in a fan, for fear that water had leaked into the electrical outlet. Mosquitoes repeatedly bit her children, ages 4, 6 and 14.

“The mosquitoes were tearing us up, no matter what I did,” said Holmes, 32, who lives in New Orleans’ Center City neighborhood.

If Zika spreads in the United States, Americans who live in substandard housing and neglected neighborhoods could face the greatest danger, particularly along the Gulf Coast – where steamy summers, high poverty rates and a dizzying array of mosquitoes could allow the virus to take hold, said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine.

About 45 million Americans live in poverty, including 8 million along the Gulf Coast.

Read the rest of the story in USA Today.

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