Officials taking steps to control Zika virus if outbreak occurs in Houston

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Residents are hoping to clean up abandoned tires amidst worries about the potential threat of the Zika virus.

"It's nasty, it smells really bad," Ysenia Guardado said.

That's how Guardado describes the mosquito-infested trash and abandoned tires in her southeast Houston neighborhood. Her neighbor, George Stephenson knows, specifically the water-filled tires, are breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and he's been calling 311 since February.

"You can't come out here at night, the mosquitoes have taken over, and the tires, they just sit here," said Stephenson.

Dr. David Persse is leading the City of Houston's response to the Zika virus. He recommends residents keep calling about the abandoned tires in their neighborhoods because the mosquitoes which can transmit Zika will begin to breed in the next few weeks. He warns it's not just pregnant women who need to stay vigilant.

"I'm a 50s-year-old man, I'm not going to get pregnant, right? Why do I worry? If I contract it, and mosquitoes bite me and become infected, they now can be the one that can take it to a pregnant woman in my neighborhood," said Persse.

You'll see signs around the city about the 3-D Zika defense: drain standing water, dress in long sleeves and pants, and use Deet repellant.

The city says it has picked up 2,500 more tons of heavy trash than usual in the last two months, and that includes 1,400 tires; but Persse says the city needs federal money to continue the large amount of trash across the city.

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Medical expert Dr. Richard Besser explains Zika virus

Zika symptoms diagnosis and treatment from the CDC


  • About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill (i.e., develop Zika).

  • The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.

  • The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.

  • Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for a few days but it can be found longer in some people.

  • Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

  • Deaths are rare.


  • The symptoms of Zika are similar to those of dengue and chikungunya, diseases spread through the same mosquitoes that transmit Zika.

  • See your healthcare provider if you develop the symptoms described above and have visited an area where Zika is found.

  • If you have recently traveled, tell your healthcare provider when and where you traveled.

  • Your healthcare provider may order blood tests to look for Zika or other similar viruses like dengue or chikungunya.


  • No vaccine or medications are available to prevent or treat Zika infections.

Treat the symptoms:

    Get plenty of rest
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration

  • Take medicines, such as acetaminophen or paracetamol, to relieve fever and pain

  • Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and naproxen. Aspirin and NSAIDs should be avoided until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of hemorrhage (bleeding). If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.

  • If you have Zika, avoid mosquito bites for the first week of your illness.

  • During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites.
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