(UNDATED) - Central Indiana is seeing a boom in the mosquito population and it has health officials warning people to check their backyards for breeding areas.
Officials said a recent heat wave has made conditions perfect for West Nile-infected mosquitoes to breed.
West Nile is a potentially fatal virus that mosquitoes can spread to humans. Mosquitoes contract the virus by feeding on infected birds.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the main way humans contract the virus are through the bite of an infected mosquito. West Nile can also be spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants and breastfeeding. A small number of cases have been transferred from mother to baby during pregnancy.
Five Marion County residents have died from the virus since 2002.
People usually develop symptoms anywhere from three to 14 days after becoming infected. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, nausea and vomiting. More severe symptoms include neck stiffness, tremors, convulsions, coma and paralysis. Symptoms can last for several weeks.
Residents are asked to walk around their homes and identify containers capable of holding water. These containers should be cleaned and housed as they provide the perfect place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.
To prevent mosquito bites and West Nile exposure, you should wear long-sleeve shirts, long pants and use a repellent with D.E.E.T. when going outside, especially in the early evening.
Mosquito season usually lasts until the first hard frost in mid-October.
If you would rather avoid chemical repellents, there are services to eliminate mosquitoes in your backyard. The Mosquito Squad of East Indianapolis officers services to spray plants around the perimeter of yards to kill mosquitoes.
The product is made of dried Chysanthemum plants and a sticking agent that coats the part of leaves where mosquitoes eat.
Ken Frost, owner of Mosquito Squad of East Indianapolis, said his client list has nearly tripled this year with people wanting to protect themselves from mosquitoes.
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