The Swiss city of Locarno is taking measures against the breeding of the tiger mosquito, which officials fear could spread the Zika virus. Residents will be assessed hefty fines for having standing water that allows the mosquitos to reproduce.
A new city ordinance requires residents to empty water from the bases of flowerpots and dry them at least once per week and forbids allowing water to gather in tires, buckets or other outdoor containers. Those living in Locarno will also be required to empty their trash weekly and close the bag tightly.
Stiff penalties will apply for non-compliance, city authorities said, amounting to twice the cost of spraying the area for mosquitos. In some cases, the fines could amount to as much as CHF10,000 ($10,200).
Locarno, located in Switzerland’s Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, is located south of the Alps and has a microclimate hospitable to the tiger mosquito. In recent years, the mosquito has also been spotted north of the Alps, though in smaller numbers than in Ticino.
Health officials believe the mosquito could be a carrier of the Zika virus, which can cause serious birth defects and is associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disease that can cause paralysis or death.
Millions of people in tropical regions of North and South America may have been infected with Zika, which the World Health Organization recently declared to be a worldwide public health emergency.