Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Emergent-disease expert Laurie Garrett warns of the health and political consequences of Hurricane Katrina in this analysis.

"1.) The Mississippi Delta region is the natural ecological home of a long list of infectious microbial diseases. It is America’s tropical region, more akin ecologically to Haiti or parts of Africa than to Boston or Los Angeles. The most massive Yellow Fever epidemics in the Americas all swept, in the 19th Century, up the Mississippi from the delta region. Malaria was not eradicated from the area until after World War II. Isolated cases of dengue fever,another mosquito-borne disease, have been spotted in the region over the last ten years. Not only are all the mosquitoes that traditionally carry these microbes still thriving in the area, but the Aedes albopictus mosquito – a large, aggressive monster, was introduced to the Americas from Asia about 15 years ago, and now thrives in the Gulf area. Most of these troublesome mosquito species reproduce rapidly in precisely the conditions now present, post-hurricane."