City Issuing Citations for Unkept Properties to Prevent Zika

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BROWNSVILLE – The city of Brownsville is issuing citations to residents who have mosquito breeding grounds around their homes.

They’re not taking any chances of a Zika outbreak after the sixth locally acquired case was confirmed.

The threat of Zika for one Brownsville resident is frightening. The fact that a case was confirmed not far from where he lived is even scarier.

“It was like the Zika virus here, in this area? Oh no. We have to do something about it, you know,” Luis Martinez said.

He’s doing what he can to eliminate any potential mosquito breeding grounds around his home. He’s keeping the grass short and trim and eliminating standing water.

“If we see dirty water, we just throw it out, and the tires, especially the tires. We have some over there, we spilled them out already, so I think we are good for now,” Martinez said.

Just a few houses down, Gerardo Delgado is also cleaning up his yard.

“You can’t help but worry,” he said.

According to Brownsville Health Director Art Rodriguez, not everyone is keeping things tidy around their homes. He mentioned code enforcement officers are taking a harder stance since six cases of local transmission of Zika were confirmed.

Citations, ranging from $500 to $2,000, are being issued to violators.

“It’s not our preferred method, we prefer to have compliance through simple notices, but it is within our means and we have been escalating especially in areas that we know are most at risk for the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses,” Rodriguez said.

The city has also stepped up spraying efforts. Vector control workers are driving trucks through high-risk neighborhoods, such as areas near Price and Padre Island Highway, where the latest Zika case was detected, and spraying.

Some are also walking home-to-home, equipped with a special backpack to spray for mosquitoes. The method, Rodriguez said, is 90 percent effective.

He said everyone needs to help in preventing a Zika outbreak.

“This is it’s not about property. This is the safety and health of other people, and when you have disease conditions on your property, it becomes a public health nuisance,” Rodriguez said.

On average, each code enforcement officer issues about five to 10 citations for violations. Right now, with Zika lurking throughout the city, Rodriguez said the average is slightly higher.


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