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NASA, NCAR Map Possible Spread of Zika Virus in the U.S.

May 03, 2016 12:49 PM EDT
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Brazil Faces New Health Epidemic As Mosquito-Borne Zika Virus Spreads Rapidly
Health organizations worldwide are working together to help stop the spread of Zika-carrying mosquitoes.
(Photo : Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The Zika Virus is considered a worldwide health issue prompting organizations around the world to contribute in putting a halt to this deadly virus. Even the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has put efforts to curb the spread of Zika Virus by partnering with NCAR in mapping the possible spread of the virus in the next few years.

In a report by CNN, they said that NASA worked with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to enhance and create maps to target the possible routes of Zika-carrying mosquitoes in the U.S.

The updated maps were made through a study. NCAR focused on the 50 cities which have known presence of Zika-carrying mosquitoes. To map the movement of the mosquitoes, they have factored in the temperature, rainfall and poverty levels to produce the findings.

The recently released study stated that the movement of the Zika-carrying mosquitoes can be predicted. "To provide information about the location of Aedes-transmitted virus outbreaks we mapped counties with confirmed local DENV and CHIKV transmission in the contiguous U.S. from 1 January 2010-6 February 2016." With the data obtained, they also managed to point out the areas which are "suitable" for the survival of the virus-carrying female mosquitoes.

Part of the findings stated the following points:

- By mid-July, all fifty cities are meteorologically suitable for Ae. Aegypti

- Cities in the western U.S. are suitable for low-to-moderate abundance of Ae. aegypti.

- Potential abundance begins to increase in April in the southeastern U.S. and some cities in Arizona

- By June nearly all cities exhibit the potential for at least low-to-moderate abundance, and most eastern cities are suitable for moderate-to-high abundance.

- Conditions are most suitable in July, August and September during the warmest (and in many cities wettest) time of year. Conditions in the southern and western states remain suitable through November

For the complete map and detailed findings, the data is available on their website.

Because of this comprehensive mapping project, even the CDC had updated their maps of the spread of the Zika-carrying mosquitoes. But CDC warns that the maps are represents only the possible reach and range of the mosquitoes carrying the Zika-virus. Being mentioned in the map does not necessarily mean that there are already known cases in the area.

CNN added that this type of project is within NASA's range of expertise "Predictive models are nothing new for NASA. Over the past 30 years, it has worked with numerous world health organizations to look at the possible spread of such diseases."

NASA funded the study but is not involved in data gathering. A NASA scientist, Cory Morin, helped explain why the mapping is important in the fight against Zika Virus an interview with CNN. "This suggests that the mosquito can potentially survive in these locations if introduced during certain seasons, even if it hasn't or can't become fully established."

The map shows how big are the "suitable" areas for mosquito survival especially during the summer. That's why Extreme precautions are being advised after another case of Zika Virus infection was confirmed in the U.S.

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