Residents in the Zika Virus Habitat


Last winter, health officials began to worry seriously about an outbreak of the Zika-related illness in the United States. I wondered, how many people could be affected as habitats for aedes aegypti — the mosquito thought to carry the virus — as temperatures warmed?

I obtained a mosquito habitat geography file from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. I then used a spatial query to determine how many Americans counties were within that footprint — and, of course, the population and demographics of those locations. The result:

The mosquitoes’ habitat may seem small geographically compared the country as a whole, but it does includes about one in five American counties. They are home to roughly 80 million people, according to a Daily Viz analysis of data released by the mapping company Esri and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The rough map below shows the species’ habitat (shaded in pink) and its respective counties’ population density (red dots represent 50,000 residents). The area includes roughly 29 million households — some of which, of course, will include pregnant women this summer.

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