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Keep the mosquitoes away this summer

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department says there haven't been any cases of the Zika virus that started in our area, only a few cases where people infected in other countries have returned home after being treated and cleared.

Mosquitoes typically stay within a quarter mile of where they're hatched. The best thing you can do is prevent the outside of your home from becoming a breeding ground.

"They're looking for blood," says Bonnie Deakins, Director of Environmental Health Services for the health department. "That's what they eat. So, they're looking for us."

The two kinds of mosquitoes that can transmit Zika are found in our region. The best way to keep them from breeding near your home is to get rid of standing water.

"These mosquitoes like small, container-type places where stagnant water collects," adds Deakins.

So tip over your bird baths and empty "Fido's" water bowl when he's inside. Also, empty your kiddie pools when not being used and check unused outdoor plant and flower pots for accumulated water.

It doesn't take much for these critters to hatch eggs.

"Even if you have a leaky outside faucet and you have a tablespoon or two of water collecting there, you need to fix that faucet," suggests Deakins.

Use bug spray on yourself before heading outside, and make sure it contains deet.

If you have extra bucks to spend, you can also have your property professionally sprayed to keep mosquitoes away. It will cost about $100 per half acre.

Brad Ledford, owner of Mosquito Squad of Chattanooga, has been in the business for six years.

"What we're doing is spraying all the bushes and shrubs and mulch beds around the house," explains Ledford. "We also get under decks if we can get to them."

They cover the entire perimeter of your property, even nearby woods.

The spray contains pesticides similar to what you'd find in flea-and-tick shampoo for pets or in lice shampoo for kids. It's EPA-approved and safe after it settles for a while.

"Keep the kids and dogs inside. After 30 minutes you can let them back outside to play again," says Ledford.

Also, the Zika-prone mosquitoes mosquitoes like to venture indoors to find prey. So do what you can to keep them from getting into your home.

"You need to make sure you use screens on your windows and your doors, or just keep them shut," adds Deakins.

Other tips: Empty the water from your gutters whenever possible. Zika mosquitoes are day-biters, so wear long pants and long-sleeves during the daytime as much as possible. Also, you can buy mosquito "dunks" at hardware and home improvement stores. These can keep mosquitoes away from standing water on your lawns.

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