States Most Concerned With Mosquitoes
by Tessa Boyce
HealthGrove looks at Google Trends to see which states are the most worried about mosquitoes, and where the species that carry Zika virus could head to this summer.
As temperatures go up and we spend more time outside enjoying summer, mosquitoes are also busy -- multiplying, feeding and possibly carrying dangerous diseases.
Cases of West Nile virus pop up around the country every summer, and while some years are particularly bad, less than 1 percent of people infected with West Nile develop serious problems. There is a new, more serious, mosquito-borne illness on the block that may be coming to a town near you this summer. As many media outlets have reported, Zika virus is spreading in tropical countries and has become a serious threat to pregnant women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects."
HealthGrove, a health data site that's part of Graphiq, wanted to see which states were feeling the most concerned about mosquitoes. Using data from Google Trends, we rank the popularity of mosquito searches based on a state's Mosquito Search Index. This number takes into account the relative, population controlled, popularity of the search for "mosquito" on Google in 2015. As the visualization above shows, people who live in states teeming with large, stagnant bodies of water, like Alabama, Louisiana and Hawaii, were busy searching for "mosquito" in 2015. Other states in much colder regions including North Dakota and New Hampshire had high Mosquito Search Indexes as well.
Additionally, the CDC recently estimated where the two species of mosquitoes that carry Zika virus, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, could spread in 2016. Along with their Mosquito Search Index, we've labeled whether or not the Zika-carrying species of mosquitoes could reach each state in 2016.
As the maps indicate, the Aedes albopictus, or Asian Tiger mosquito could possibly reach every state except those farthest North. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, known for spreading dengue fever and yellow fever in the past, could also reach most of the southern half of the US (although it is not expected to reach Hawaii or Colorado). However, just because Zika-carrying mosquitoes can inhabit a certain area, this does not ensure that the virus will follow. Wherever you live, mosquito repellant would probably be a good purchase this summer.
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"States Most Concerned With Mosquitoes "