By Tamas Mondovics

With multiple cases of the Zika virus in four counties in the state, including three in Hillsborough last month, Florida Governor Rick Scott wasted no time to declare a public health emergency. Scott emphasized that while the nine Zika cases (at the time of writing this article) that prompted the announcement were travel-related, “We have to ensure Florida is prepared and stays ahead of the spread of the Zika virus in our state.”

To work in harmony with the statewide effort to combat, prepare for, halt the spread of and, ultimately eradicate the virus, local government officials have called on residents’ support and cooperation, including an effort to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds. The Zika virus, according to the CDC, spreads to people through mosquito bites.

According to Andrea Roshaven with the Hillsborough County Communications Office, residents had opportunities to dispose of old tires during several free tire collection events, hosted by Hillsborough County’s Solid Waste Division and the Resource Management Rapid Response Team.

The effort emphasized that to give mosquitoes the boot, attention must be given not just to old tires but also buckets, unused plastic swimming pools, clogged rain gutters, old appliances, sagging tarps, and other containers that collect and hold water which, in turn, can become breeding sites for hundreds or even thousands of mosquitoes in any yard. Draining water in outside containers and discarding old tires and other items that aren’t being used remove mosquito breeding sites in residential areas.

“Based on a recent report, during the two free local collection events the community helped get rid of more than 500 old tires that could have become breeding sites for mosquitoes,” Roshaven said.

While County officials may yet to schedule another free tire collection, residents of unincorporated Hillsborough County can also dispose of up to 12 tires per year at any of the Community Collection Centers by simply bringing a photo ID and their most recent property tax bill.

Information on reducing mosquitoes is available at HillsboroughCounty.org/MosquitoNinja. Information on disposal services available through Hillsborough County is available at HillsboroughCounty.org/SolidWaste. Community Collection Centers are open Monday through Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.