National Preparedness Month (NPM) is observed each September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for weather-related disasters and emergencies. For example, the flash flooding we’re currently seeing in Tennessee and Hurricane Ida, which recently made landfall in Louisiana has caused flooding and damage across several states. Hurricanes present several public health concerns, including a rapid surge in mosquito populations, which can disrupt recovery efforts and lead to increased risk of mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile. As Environmental Health professionals, we play an essential role in helping communities build action plans for disease recovery efforts and reducing the risk of vector-borne diseases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the continuation of mosquito surveillance and control to the greatest extent possible after natural disasters (Connelly et al., 2020). This recommendation is supported by:
1) the requirement by Federal Emergency Management Agency to review historical and current data on mosquito populations for reimbursement for mosquito control expenses incurred in post-disaster situations;
2) the need to protect the health and safety of relief workers after a disaster; and
3) the need to prevent mosquitoes from becoming infected and causing human disease.
In 2019 the CDC partnered with the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) to collaborate on a comprehensive volume of resources to guide mosquito control in areas affected by natural disasters which are published in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association (JAMCA). Within this special issue, there are recurring themes related to proper planning prior to natural disasters, and communications plans for before, during, and after the event.
There are several additional publications that describe disease risk after natural disasters (CDC 1993, Nasci and Moore 1998, Lehman et al. 2007, Watson et al. 2007, Harrison et al. 2009, Barrera et al. 2019); mosquito control experiences with specific hurricanes and results from control activities in a post-disaster environment (Brown 1997, Breidenbaugh et al. 2006, Simpson 2006, Foppa et al. 2007, Breidenbaugh et al. 2008, Harris et al. 2014); and mosquito habitats created in the wake of storms (Caillouët et al. 2008a, 2008b; Hribar 2018).
The special issue can be accessed here: https://mosquito-jamca.org/toc/moco/36/2sexternal icon
Climate change continues to exacerbate public health risks. It is essential in disaster and concurrent disaster response that EH professionals get a seat at the table. As our changing climate continues to result in more favorable habitats for mosquito populations, the EH workforce must include vector control in recovery and response efforts.
This blog is brought to you by NEHA's Vector Program Committee. Special thank you to Broox Boze, Ph.D.
For more vector resources, visit NEHA's Vectors and Public Health Pests webpage.