HOUSTON- More than 35,000 tires and 4,500 tons of debris have been hauled away since the City began special weekend sweeps to clean up illegal dump sites that can serve as Zika breeding grounds.

The effort, which is expected to cost the $3.6 million this year, targets economically-challenged areas.

“Houston is leading the state and, possibly, the nation when it comes to attacking Zika," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "We’ve been lucky that we have not seen any Zika infections due to local transmission. However, I believe it is a just a matter of time."

The City is hopeful it will qualify for a portion of the $1.1 billion set aside last week by Congress to help fight Zika.

To date, the only Zika related funding awarded to the Houston area is a $1.5 million grant for surveillance, testing and prevention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Houston and Harris County have reported 58 Zika cases, all of which were infected while traveling outside the U.S. If someone contracts Zika through the bite of a mosquito in Houston, rapid response teams will be immediately dispatched to the affected neighborhood to disseminate information on Zika protection and mosquito reduction.

Properties will be surveyed for potential mosquito breeding grounds. Minor repairs will be made to stop mosquitoes from getting inside homes.

Residents are encouraged to follow the three Ds of mosquito defense:

  • Drain standing water and keep hedges trimmed.
  • Dress in long pants and long sleeves, keep windows and screens repaired and use air conditioning.
  • When outside, spray exposed skin with mosquito repellant containing DEET, reapply as necessary and use netting to protect babies in strollers or car seats.