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Peak mosquito season means extra precaution for Zika, West Nile viruses

Mosquito-control companies are seeing a huge uptick calls and questions about Zika virus.

DALLAS -- Mosquito-control companies are seeing a huge uptick calls and questions about Zika virus.

"Today, we're doing 22 homes," said Mosquito Joe's technician Larry Jednachowski, while spraying homes in a Highland Village neighborhood. "You hit a certain bush, and they come flooding out of there."

It's peak mosquito season, and a busy time for technicians like Jednachowski. Positive human cases of West Nile virus and confirmed Zika virus cases across North Texas have them spraying even more.

Larry Jednachowski

"Pregnant women are most concerned, because there's the chance of birth defects and things like that, so we get a lot of customers who are trying to play it safe," he said.

Infectious disease experts predict pockets of Zika infections in neighborhoods if the disease hits the U.S., as opposed to a widespread outbreak, because the type of mosquito that carries Zika travels short distances during daylight.

"They tend to travel less than a mile away, so they are more likely to infect people within that area and bite person to person to person," said Dr. Edward Dominguez, an infectious disease physician at Methodist Dallas.

A Mosquito Joe's technician sprays a backyard for the biting pests.

Only 20 percent of people infected with Zika get sick, so doctors encourage anyone who could possibly have been infected to be aware and prevent the spread.

"If you travel to a Zika-affected area and you come back and you don't have symptoms, that doesn't mean that you don't have Zika," Dr. Dominguez said. "When you come back, you should take precaution so that if you do have Zika -- even though you don't have symptoms -- you're not allowing the mosquitoes [...] to bite you and transmit it."

Dr. Edward Dominguez

Doctors suggest using repellent with DEET and avoiding mosquitoes by draining standing water around your home for between two and four weeks, especially after returning from travel to a Zika-affected area. Also, use condoms for three months after return from an affected region, as Zika can be spread through sexual contact.

For Tracy Beach and his family, who just returned home to Highland Village from a vacation to Aruba, mosquito spraying is only one of many precautions they're taking to avoid the threat of mosquito-borne illnesses.

They're also avoiding spending time outside during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

"We had a hard time sitting in our backyard -- especially at dusk," Beach said. "The mosquitoes would just eat you alive."

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