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Houston launches all-out assault to combat mosquitoes in wake of Harvey

Texas braces for mosquito explosion
Houston braces for mosquito explosion 02:16

Hurricane Harvey made landfall three weeks ago. Catastrophic floodwater from the storm left 70 dead and destroyed or damaged more than a quarter of a million homes. Now, as Houston and its surrounding areas begin to recover, people there are taking steps to head off a potential health threat: the mosquito population is expected to explode after Harvey left behind countless pools of stagnant water. 

Harris County bug experts are on a seek-and-destroy mission, reports CBS News' Omar Villafranca. Mustapha Debboun, director of mosquito control for Harris County, says these are the perfect breeding conditions.

Asked how many mosquitoes two tires with water in them could breed, Debboun said, "500 to 600, you know, 700 because a mosquito will lay a lot of eggs." 

Could releasing millions of sterile mosquitoes shrink its population? 04:23

To combat the threat of diseases like West Nile and Zika, an all-out assault has been launched. On the ground, Harris County trucks have sprayed more than 70,000 acres and for the past several nights, Air Force Reserve C-130 planes have flown over southeast Texas spraying an EPA-approved, mosquito-killing chemical.

The aerial bombardments have treated more than two million acres of Harris and other counties – more than 10 times the size of New York City.

But county officials say they can only do so much and need residents' help. Homeowners have hired personal mosquito squads, like Corey Barcomb, who says he's been going nonstop.

"[The] phone calls are, 'When can you get to us? Can you do it tomorrow? Can you do it today?'" Barcomb said.

One of the biggest problem areas are private swimming pools. Many were flooded during the storm and have now become breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Officials are urging residents to treat their own pools so they can stop the growing problem.

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