This descriptive prevalence study describes the relationships between mosquito density and the presence of arboviruses (in mosquitoes and humans) with various socioeconomic and environmental factors present near the time of the arbovirus outbreak in Harris County, Texas, in 2002. This study suggests that mosquito density increased if the trap was located in an area with a large number of containers that may inadvertently retain rainwater (P = 0.056). When considering only virus-positive mosquitoes, significant relationships were observed if the trap was located near waste materials (P < 0.001) or near containers that may inadvertently retain rainwater (P = 0.037). Furthermore, the presence of arbovirus activity (in mosquitoes or humans) in a geographic area tended to be associated with the socioeconomic status of the local community. Although the results of the socioeconomic comparisons were not significant, they were suggestive, demonstrating an interesting trend. Compared with communities where virus activity was not observed, the socioeconomic status of the arbovirus-positive community was consistently lower. Specifically, results showed that the populations residing in virus-positive census tracts attained less education, earned less income per household, and were more likely to be below the poverty level. In addition, this study found that virus-positive mosquitoes were randomly distributed throughout the study area, whereas severe human infection cases were clustered. Based on the results of this study, we conclude that the health outcome of a local community as it relates to West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis is dependent on many factors, including the socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the community.
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Vol. 22 • No. 2