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Impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on Aedes aegypti Populations, Aquatic Habitats, and Mosquito Infections with Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika Viruses in Puerto Rico

Impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on Aedes aegypti Populations, Aquatic Habitats, and Mosquito Infections with Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika Viruses in Puerto Rico

American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 100(6): 1413-1420

Puerto Rico was severely impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017. The island has been endemic for dengue viruses (DENV) and recently suffered epidemics of chikungunya (CHIKV 2014) and Zika (ZIKV 2016) viruses. Although severe storms tend to increase the number of vector and nuisance mosquitoes, we do not know how they influence Aedes aegypti populations and arboviral transmission. We compared the abundance of female Ae. aegypti in autocidal gravid ovitraps (AGO traps), container habitats, and presence of RNA of DENV, CHIKV, and ZIKV in this vector before and after the hurricanes in Caguas city and in four communities in southern Puerto Rico. Two of these communities were under vector control using mass AGO trapping and the other two nearby communities were not. We also investigated mosquito species composition and relative abundance (females/trap) using Biogents traps (BG-2 traps) in 59 sites in metropolitan San Juan city after the hurricanes. Mosquitoes sharply increased 5 weeks after Hurricane Maria. Ensuing abundance of Ae. aegypti was higher in Caguas and in one of the southern communities without vector control. Aedes aegypti did not significantly change in the two areas with vector control. The most abundant mosquitoes among the 26 species identified in San Juan were Culex (Melanoconion) spp., Culex quinquefasciatus, Culex nigripalpus, and Ae. aegypti. No arboviruses were detected in Ae. aegypti following the hurricanes, in contrast with observations from the previous year, so that the potential for Aedes-borne arboviral outbreaks following the storms in 2017 was low.

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Accession: 066672252

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PMID: 30963992

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