Harris County prepares for Zika-infected mosquitoes

HOUSTON – As summer gets closer, Harris County officials say they will increase efforts to keep mosquitoes that carry Zika to a minimum.

“It's not a matter of if but when we would see Zika virus in our mosquito population so we want to do everything we can to prepare for that,” said Dr. Umair Shah, of Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services.

There have already been 11 cases of people being diagnosed with Zika in Harris County. All patients caught the virus out of the country.

Since we know the mosquitoes that carry the virus are found in our community, Dr. Shah says we need to prevent the transmission.

“How do we actually keep the Aedes mosquito from breeding? That's the key message,” he said.

Mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus come out at night, making it easy for the county to spray chemicals to kill them, but the Aedes mosquitoes, which carry the Zika virus, are different. They are daytime nuisances and live closer to homes. So, public health officials say the best way to kill them off is not to let them breed in the first place.

“Prevent the bite day and night,” Shah said. “We want people thinking about how to protect themselves, their families, their neighborhoods and ultimately Harris County.”

Right now, the only firm recommendation is to eliminate trash, water and other breeding grounds.