The Hurricane Did One Good Thing for Puerto Rico: It Blew Away Zika

Hurricane Maria’s devastation had a silver lining for Puerto Rico: It killed, for now, most of the mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus.

The virus, which swept the island in 2015 and 2016, can cause severe health problems, including brain abnormalities in newborn children. It’s transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, which thrives in the tropics. But when a storm as strong as Hurricane Maria strikes, "those mosquito populations pretty much get wiped out," according to Thomas Skinner, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As a result, the CDC has "no imminent plans to start any kind of control for those mosquitoes," Skinner said in a phone interview.

The respite may not last. "As you have standing water remaining, in the coming weeks and months those Aedes populations will likely start to increase once again," Skinner said. He added that the agency would monitor whether new measures are required. "We’ve got to maintain our vigilance."

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