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Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEW ORLEANS -- Look in your flower pots and other containers in your yard. If you have standing water from the rain we've been having, health experts say, 'Get rid of it.'

They say they need your help preventing a virus that is new to the United States and spread by mosquitoes.

The mosquitoes love the rain we've had, and with concerns about the viruses they can transmit, Mosquito Control Services in Jefferson Parish is staying a head of the game. They have 22 chickens they test and traps, like the one in Pontiff Playground, to see if viruses are in the area.

'We have has some cases of West Nile reported by the Department of Health and Hospitals. This is actually a little bit early because most of these cases are later in August. The reason why we're seeing them early is because we've had such a rainy summer,' said Dr. James Diaz, a professor and director of Environmental/Occupational Health Sciences at the LSUHSC School of Public Health.

The new concern is with Chikungunya virus, brought back to the U.S. by international travelers and transmitted by the very aggressive the Asian Tiger mosquito, not person to person.

'The person who's carrying the virus gets bitten by a female mosquito, who then bites another person, and who then bites another person and transmits the disease. And that has now happened in the United States, which is what we were very concerned about in the beginning,' added Dr. Diaz.

Chikungunya rarely kills, but causes a rash, fever, cloudy eyes and joint pain for a while. There's no treatment.

With West Nile, Mosquito Control Services goes door to door educating people about how to prevent it. They also increase spraying.

But if Chikungunya is found in this area, they will increase going door to door with special educational brochures and also increase spraying.

'Basically policing your own yards, hitting baby pools that might have a little bit of holding water, flower pots, gutters, we just need to keep policing the yards to prevent a possible outbreak,' said Keith Broussard, a biologist with Mosquito Control Services.

Chikungunya is not in this area now, but the concern is that 90 percent of us have immunity and don't get sick from the West Nile virus, but most of us aren't protected from Chikungunya.

The Asian Tiger mosquito bites all day long, so doctors say use repellants with DEET to protect yourself.

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