Health officials are warning Houston area residents about standing pools of water that could become breeding grounds for mosquitos that carry disease, including the West Nile Virus. The waters could be from heavy rains or flooding left behind by Hurricane Harvey.
To prevent mosquitos from breeding, mosquito control managers in Harris County are asking residents to clear standing pools of water in tires, buckets, flower pots, children’s pools sand boxes, gutters and even the water from outdoor dog bowls.
“A lot of pockets of water will be formed. As the water recedes from the floods there will be a lot of formation of pockets and pools of water where mosquitos will find to breed,” Mustapha Debboun, Director of Mosquito Control Division for Harris County Health Department, told Fox News. “More habitats will be available for them.”
A week to two weeks after the hurricane is when Debboun said he expects to see mosquito populations increase.
Debboun said many areas that can hold still water that may have been empty before the storm will likely be full now. He also said the Houston area already had West Nile Virus before the flooding.
To prevent bites, Debboun suggests wearing long sleeves and pants. He also suggests applying mosquito donuts to standing water, which kill larvae but don’t harm anything else. However, residents should only apply the repellents to their private property.
“To apply any insecticide in a public waterway you have to be licensed. A certified pest management person,” Debboun said.
Debboun said it’s too early to be sure how much the mosquito population has grown since Harvey, but the department is constantly counting to get a check. He said they check both by allowing people in his department to be bit and then counting the bites, they also set traps and count mosquitos that get caught.
“We have a lot of water, a lot of areas that have plenty of mosquitos breeding. We will go and do some spraying until the populations go down,” Debboun said.
The Department of Defense is also planning to perform aerial sprays through FEMA. That will take place both around Houston and other areas of Texas.
Debboun said no one should be deterred from having fun outside because of the extra mosquitos, but they should be taking precautions like covering skin and wearing repellent.