Austin Public Health collects hundreds of old tires to help combat mosquito borne illness

Austin Public Health collected hundreds of old tires Saturday afternoon to help save the environment and combat mosquito-borne illnesses.

Thousands of mosquitoes tend to collect inside rubber tires and breed thousands more. The health department’s concern is not with the bug itself but the viruses they can carry like Zika.

According to the Austin Public Health’s situational report, as of June 29, 2018 there were 28 cases of illness due to Zika virus. In 2016, a child born with microcephaly had the Zika virus and was the first confirmed case in Travis County. 

Preventative measures

Mosquitoes are attracted to standing water and when it rains, yards can be infected by hundreds. The health department recommends getting rid of water in bird baths, pots and tires. Epidemiologist Ashley Hawes with Austin Public Health says when their analysts surveyed neighborhoods, they learned residents were leaving tires idle and inviting the pesky insects in.

"We've estimated that one tire can hold 10,000 mosquitoes. They don't really travel that far but they tend to travel a lot around your house,” Hawes said. "Keeping your lawn mowed is just a really simple thing everyone can do that can reduce the huge mosquito population."

Hawes also recommends people were protective clothing and use proper insect repellents to avoid being bitten.

The Austin Resource Recovery Center lifted disposable tires from people's trunks Saturday and crushed them. It's a service Dale Curry rushed to take part in.

"I think we need to be more cognizant of what we are doing to the environment each and every one of us and this gives us the opportunity to respond to that," Curry said.

Last year, the public health department collected more than 400 tires and within hours they surpassed their anticipated amount for this year.

If someone missed Saturday's event, Austin Resource Recovery Center accepts recyclable tires twice a year.