There goes the neighbourhood: mosquitoes thrive on US credit slump
It's no secret that thousands of homes are being abandoned in the US due to the property crash, but I never thought that people not draining their swimming pools before they left could cause so many problems. They are becoming a breeding ground for blood-sucking mosquitoes - and that can only lead to health problems for some of the US's major cities.
The phenomenon is threatening to turn into a disaster for cities such as LasVegas, where land values in some areas tripled every year during the boom,prompting developers to build thousands of million-dollar mansions, completewith lavishly proportioned swimming pools and outdoor Jacuzzis.
Unsurprisingly, no one gave much thought to what would happen if most of thesparkling desert oases were left to stagnate in the desert heat — a resultof owners either defaulting on their superjumbo mortgages, or developersbeing unable to get rid of their inventory amid the global credit crunchthat has brought America's lending industry almost to a halt.
Now, the very developments where upwardly-mobile homeowners once splashedaround under clear blue skies are quickly turning into the world'sunlikeliest swampland — and an ideal place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.
In the comfort of a solar-heated swimming pool, mosquito eggs can hatch intolarvae (known as wrigglers) in about 48 hours, and become adults — able totravel as far as 20 miles from their breeding site — within a fortnight.
The phenomenon has been reported not only in Nevada, where one in every 146homes is facing foreclosure (when a bank seizes a property to help to settlean unpaid loan), but also in Arizona and California.
Tim Gormady, a resident of Mountain Shadows Estates in Las Vegas, is one ofthousands of homeowners who have suddenly found themselves living inAmerica's post-crunch swampland, with the pool in his neighbour's abandonedhouse turning from blue to green.
“I truly believe that in a couple of weeks this city is going to be full ofmosquitoes,” he told the Las Vegas Review Journal, adding thatwhen one property became infested, entire neighbourhoods could be lost: “Forthe people who are left here, it's a bummer.”
Public health officials are already on high alert. Through their bites,mosquitoes can transmit malaria and West Nile virus - along with yellowfever and the parasitic filariasis worm, which causes the disfiguringcondition elephantiasis.