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The Pest in Tempest: Mosquito Invasion Could Add to Harvey Hurricane Disaster

© REUTERS / Richard CarsonInterstate highway 45 is submerged from the effects of Hurricane Harvey seen during widespread flooding in Houston, Texas. File photo
Interstate highway 45 is submerged from the effects of Hurricane Harvey seen during widespread flooding in Houston, Texas. File photo - Sputnik International
The US regions already devastated by Hurricane Harvey may face a mosquito invasion and an outbreak of the diseases commonly spread by the blood-sucking insects, an expert told the AP.

Medical entomologist Joon Lee from the University of North Texas Health Science Center said that although floods will wash away the places of mass reproduction of the insects, they can quickly restore their population due to the abundance of stagnant water.

The AP quoted Lee as saying that "mosquito populations will likely explode within the next two weeks and will stay for at least a month or two."

"That could mean increased transmission of potentially life-threatening, mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis," Lee said.

Residents are rescued from their homes surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Houston, Texas. - Sputnik International
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He did not rule out that outbreaks of such diseases as Zika, dengue fever and Chikungunya "are also possible", but added that they "must originate from a person already infected."

Earlier this week, the US' Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a statement on "disturbing reports" about people posing as Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents and "knocking on doors in the Houston area telling residents to evacuate, presumably so these imposters can rob the empty homes."

ICE recalled in this regard that all those officers who represent the HSI should wear "special agent" badges which "members of the public can ask to see and verify."

Last Friday, Hurricane Harvey hit Texas as a category four storm, affecting mainly the southeastern part of the state, including the city of Houston, in addition to the southwestern part of the state of Louisiana.

At least 47 people died and tens of thousands more were evacuated as a result of the hurricane, according to the latest media reports.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Governor John Bel Edwards said that the US state of Louisiana escaped the full force of Hurricane Harvey, but people need to brace for a second powerful storm that is less than two weeks away.

Harvey, now a tropical depression, is expected to completely exit Louisiana within hours after causing limited damage compared with the devastation in the neighboring state of Texas, Edwards explained.

Harvey is the largest storm to have hit the United States since the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina slammed into southern Louisiana and neighboring Mississippi in 2005, inundating New Orleans.

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