Houston authorities bracing for Zika virus appearance

HOUSTON --A global health conference in Houston this week addressed the growing threat of the Zika virus in the U.S. CBS News was there, and checked in with local troops trying to fight the virus.

A team of mosquito hunters has set traps throughout Houston neighborhoods.

They take them back to a lab, where they freeze the insects, sort them, and grind them up for testing. They look for viruses like West Nile, dengue, and now Zika.

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A researcher handles mosquitoes being tested for diseases

CBS News

So far there's no evidence mosquitoes in the U.S. are infected with Zika virus, but scientists say it's almost inevitable. The flooding in Houston this past week means an explosion of potential breeding sites.

At one point, the CBS News crew came across a stack of tires with sitting water inside.

"This is Aedes aegyptiheaven right here," said infectious diseases expert Dr. Peter Hotez. He said protecting vulnerable neighborhoods is critical for disease prevention.

"For Aedes aegypti, they're so intimately linked to human habitats that they've evolved to breed in tires and in plastic containers, and those are what have to be removed."

Doctor David Persse directs the city of Houston's disease prevention services. He preaches the three D's: "Drain, Dress, and DEET."

"The one misconception that I'm hearing is that it's not really not going to be a problem," Dr. Persse said.

"But certainly for the families of the children who are born with microcephaly, it's going to be devastating."

The sentiment at the conference was that there simply are not enough resources in the U.S. to fight the Zika virus, which is especially troubling with mosquito season just around the corner.

  • Jonathan LaPook

    Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the chief medical correspondent for the CBS Evening News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook