Water Basics, Challenge 2: One Bite Can Kill You

Water is found in the ocean; in the atmosphere; on land in rivers, lakes, glaciers, and wetlands; underground in rock formations; and in pore spaces in rocks and sediment.  Although water cycles between these reservoirs, the total amount does not change significantly over human timescales.

The water cycle is made up of several processes, including evaporation, transpiration, condensation, precipitation, and the eventual return of flowing water to the ocean.  The energy of sunlight and the force of gravity power the water cycle, which in turn distributes water globally.

The availability of water influences the life cycles of many disease pathogens and their vectors.  Consequently, the movement of water through the water cycle can affect the timing and intensity of disease outbreaks such as malaria, cholera, West Nile virus, and Dengue fever.

You are the public information officer in the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management, Texas Department of Public Safety.  The governor is going to be interviewed on television about the hurricane preparedness plan for the state of Texas.  You are tasked with briefing the governor on the potential flooding and health impacts of hurricanes on Texas.

To prepare the governor for the interview you will need to create:

  1. briefing document with 10 questions that a journalist would be likely to ask and answers that the governor could use in the interview.  Questions should cover past major hurricanes that have struck the Gulf Coast between 1900 and 2009, how they contributed to flooding, and their impact on human health as a consequence of mosquito-borne diseases that occurred in the wake of these storms.
  2. Physical props (charts, tables, and maps) for the interview, including (a) a map that shows the tracks of the 10 most important hurricanes that have made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast between 1900 and 2009, and (b) a table that summarizes mosquito-borne disease outbreaks associated with each storm.  You may use available health data and news stories or reports to document these outbreaks.
  3. tri-fold pamphlet to inform the public about mosquito-borne disease outbreaks and to provide guidance on how to prevent or mitigate them.  The Texas Department of Public Safety Governor’s Division of Emergency Management will distribute the pamphlets to regional emergency planners and the public.