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Populations of Mosquitos Growing, Study Finds

Dec 08, 2016 08:17 AM EST
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Since last years, news about a new mosquito-borne ailment the Zika virus has been making rounds online. While the Zika virus is not fatal, with more people succumbing to dengue every year, the concern stems from its effect to pregnant women and their offspring. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the virus has since reached the United States. At present, there have been 185 locally acquired cases and 4,310 travel-associated cases reported across the country.

Needless to say, the spread of Zika is concerning, more so with recent reports detailing the rise of mosquito populations worldwide.

According to a recent study published on the journal Nature Communications last Dec. 6, 2016, the population of mosquitoes have increased almost ten-fold over the last 50 years especially in New York, New Jersey, and California.

Initially, scientists involved in the study attribute the increase with the effects of climate change. However, after careful observation, it seems like the decrease in DDT usage and intense urbanization are the main causes for the upward trend of the prevalence of mosquitoes.

DDT is a type of insecticide that was used in the United States from the 1940s to 1970s. It was a very effective insecticide however adverse environmental effects have been an offshoot of DDT used. In the 1970s, use of DDT has been banned.

According to Marm Kilpatrick, author of the study and associate professor in UC Santa Cruz, experts knew how effective DDT is in controlling mosquito populations. However, it was unforeseen how effective it was until the recent upsurge of mosquito number.

"Everyone knew DDT was an extremely effective insecticide, but I was surprised by how long-lasting its effects were. In some areas, it took 30 to 40 years for mosquito populations to recover," quipped Kilpatrick as reported by Science Daily

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