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Front Page - Friday, August 9, 2019

Health Department traps West Nile virus-positive mosquitoes

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department says mosquitoes recently trapped in Hamilton County tested positive for West Nile Virus.

“This is a reminder that mosquito bites are not just a harmless, itchy thing that goes away,” says Director of Environmental Health Services Bonnie Deakins. “About one in five of those infected will develop a fever and other symptoms, while about one in 150 could develop a serious illness.”

West Nile Virus is the most common mosquito-borne virus in the US. Milder symptoms can include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Severe symptoms could include coma or paralysis.

The disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. It is not spread through coughing, sneezing, or touching.

Although birds can be infected by the West Nile Virus, neither live nor dead birds can transmit the virus to humans. However, when disposing of a dead bird, always use gloves.

In a small number of cases, the virus has been transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding.

There is no vaccine to prevent West Nile Virus. The most effective prevention against West Nile Virus or any mosquito-borne disease is by protecting against mosquito bites from the body outward, says Deakins.

“Starting at the skin, use EPA-approved insect repellents, wear clothing that covers skin, use screens on windows and doors, eliminate or reduce standing water around your home and take these precautions when traveling overseas,” she adds.

Laboratory testing of the trapped mosquitoes was performed by the Tennessee Department of Health. The Health Department’s trapping program is funded by a grant from the state.

From 2012-2017, seven cases of West Nile Virus were reported to the Health Department. During the same time, 82 cases were reported across Tennessee.

View a list of EPA-approved repellents at www.tn.gov/health/information-for-individuals/i/fact-sheets/west-nile-virus.html.

Source: Chattanooga-Hamilton Hamilton County Health Department