AccuWeather, the largest and fastest growing source of weather forecasts and warnings with Superior Accuracy™ as well as the global leader of digital media and big data, today announced a Mosquito Zika Risk Index on AccuWeather.com and AccuWeather iOS apps. Availability on the AccuWeather app for Android will follow soon.
The first-of-its-kind index gives users a quick and easy way to view the likelihood of mosquito infestations that could lead to greater risk of contracting the Zika virus at a particular location in the contiguous U.S. The Index will help people understand where the greatest concentrations of mosquitos exist (which may carry other pathogens as well) and where and how this is related to possible Zika carrying concentrations. The Index is not a medical warning or diagnosis and decisions about one’s health and related risks and is not intended to be, those decisions should always be made in concert with medical professionals. The Index can alert people to relatively unsafe areas; keeping in mind that a Zika carrying mosquito could exist in safer areas as well.
The Mosquito Zika Risk Index level (very low, low, medium, or high) is generated by evaluating the historical habitat for the mosquito species most linked with Zika and the latest scientific research on how weather affects Zika transmission by mosquitos, then combining it with the AccuWeather Day-By-Day 90-Day Forecasts. This innovative index benefits users by providing real-time insights they can use to make informed decisions to keep themselves and their families, safe.
“Weather is an enormous factor when it comes to our health,” said Steve Smith, President of Digital Media, AccuWeather. “We are glad to lead the way in offering an array of innovative product enhancements that help people derive important and useful information from our weather forecasts. This new Mosquito Zika Risk index will help people make better decisions to protect their health by giving them the insight they need to avoid risky scenarios, or take necessary precautions when visits to high-risk areas are unavoidable.”
People can access the Mosquito Zika Risk Index from the Personalized Forecasts Menu on the AccuWeather.com homepage. Select the Mosquito forecast and click the button labeled “Check Your Zika Risk” to open the Mosquito Zika Risk Index page.
Risk level information for the user’s location will be presented at the top of the page. If Zika cases suspected to have been transmitted by mosquitos have been reported at this location, the number of cases will be displayed. Users can view details for additional U.S. locations by clicking on the map displayed on the page.
An interactive timeline lets visitors see predicted risk levels over a 90-day period, with color coding to indicate the risk contours on the map. This is particularly helpful at this time of the year, when rapid changes to Zika mosquito risk occur as temperature patterns change during the Fall. Tapping the dates on the timeline triggers the map to show the index for different timeframes.
Users of the AccuWeather app for iOS can access the Mosquito Zika Risk Index from the menu located in the bottom right corner of the screen. Expanding this menu and selecting “View Map” opens a map page with a gray search box at the top of the screen. Tapping on the search box permits users to choose “Zika Risk from Mosquitos” from a selection of maps. Users can then scroll around the map, zoom in and out by pinching the screen, and tap on an area to see the current Zika risk in that location. Color-coded risk levels, from low to high, displayed on the map make the information quickly and easily accessible and understandable.
The Mosquito Zika Risk Index is AccuWeather’s latest product enhancement designed to save and improve people’s lives by providing contextually relevant information, in this case to reduce the risk of an infectious disease. In addition to ensuring safety with the most accurate weather forecasts and warnings, AccuWeather.com and the company’s iOS and Android apps already include a Pollen Index to help people protect themselves against pollen as an allergen. Having the most accurate forecasts and warnings also gives migraine or joint pain sufferers the information they need to avoid humidity, and people with asthma the information they need to avoid dry conditions.
“This new Mosquito Zika Risk Index takes our efforts to use weather forecasts for improved health one step further,” said Smith. Smith also noted that the index is especially timely during this extraordinary hurricane season, when residents of Texas and Florida are experiencing a greater pooling of standing water due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which may ultimately lead to greater infestations of mosquitoes.
Dr. Joacim Rocklov, Associate Professor in Epidemiology and Global Health at Umea University, Sweden, urges caution about the threat of Zika virus following a major flood event. “The risk of Zika typically decreases in the first month following a flood event, then increases in the two- to three-month time frame before falling back to normal levels,” he said.