The Chattanooga-Hamilton Hamilton County Health Department says that mosquitoes recently trapped in Hamilton County were positive for West Nile Virus.
“While West Nile Virus isn’t new to our area,” says Director of Environmental Health Services Bonnie Deakins, “this is a reminder that mosquito bites are not just a harmless, itchy thing that goes away. About 1 in 5 of those infected will develop a fever and other symptoms, while about 1 in 150 could develop serious illness.”
West Nile Virus is the most common mosquito-borne virus in the United States. Milder symptoms can include fever, headache, bodyaches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollenlymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach andback.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 transmittedfrom 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.” 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 where mosquitoes breed, and take these precautions when traveling overseas.
In addition to West Nile Virus, the Health Department has been trapping mosquitoes to monitor for other mosquito-borne diseases, such as, but not limited to, Chikungunya, Zika, and La Crosse Encephalitis. Laboratory testing of the trapped mosquitoes is performed by Tennessee Department of Health laboratories. The Health Department’s trapping program is funded by a grant from the Tennessee Department of Health as part of a statewide monitoring program.
From 2012-2017, seven cases of West Nile Virus were reported to the Health Department. During the same time, eighty-two cases were reportedacross Tennessee.
For more information about West Nile Virus or to see a list of EPA-approved repellents,please visit the Tennessee Department of Health or the CDC,or call the Environmental Health Services division at (423) 209-8110.