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Project January 11, 2022

Mosquito-borne Illness Interventions in Louisiana and Beyond

mosquito on camera lens
A mosquito rests on the camera lens at the I-10 bridge over Lake Pontchartrain, north of New Orleans, Louisiana. Image by Daphne Mark. United States, 2021.

The largest killer globally is actually quite small. More than just a pest, mosquitoes carry viruses such as Zika, West Nile, Chikungunya, and dengue, as well as the parasite that causes malaria. Worldwide, these mosquito-borne diseases cause more than one million deaths per year. In 2018, malaria alone was responsible for 405,000 deaths worldwide.

In the U.S., mosquito-borne diseases have increased since 2004. West Nile virus is the most common mosquito-borne cause of death, killing about 170 Americans and infecting more than 2,600 per year.

Using a solutions journalism focus, Daphne Mark examines Louisiana’s successful natural mosquito interventions, even in the face of natural disasters.

Summer is the height of mosquito season. Armed with sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land, a meager Cajun French vocabulary, and her great uncle T’Boy’s Couyon wisdom, Mark met with spray truck drivers, West Nile patients, and infectious disease experts from across the state who are itching to find out how to stop what's bugging Louisiana.