updated 5/26/2004 4:03:48 PM ET 2004-05-26T20:03:48

-- With the weather heating up, it's time to gear up to fight mosquitoes and the disease they can transmit -- West Nile virus.

The ailment, which can be fatal to humans, was confirmed recently in a dead blue jay in Houston -- three months earlier than last year. The first human case has already been reported in Ohio.

The best way to prevent an outbreak of the disease is to control mosquito populations and reduce exposure to adult mosquitoes.

Professor John Edman of the Center for Vector Borne Disease Research at the University of California says there are a lot of things homeowners can do.

Because standing water attracts mosquitoes, he says you should clean debris from rain gutters, check around faucets and air conditioner units, and eliminate puddles that remain for several days.

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SOUND:

Professor John Edman, director of the Center for Vector Borne Disease Research at the University of California, Davis, in A-P interview

Edman says this could be a rough year for West Nile disease.

CUT 211 (05/26/04)>> :18 "of cases"

Professor John Edman, director of the Center for Vector Borne Disease Research at the University of California, Davis, in A-P interview

Edman says West Nile is finding new areas to attack.

CUT 212 (05/26/04)>> :14 "it before"

GRAPHICSBANK 793841 (08/08/02)>> 1500x1125

Mosquito on gradient, with WEST NILE VIRUS, lettering, finished graphic

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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