First human case of West Nile in Tennessee this year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Tennessee Department of Health has confirmed the first human case of West Nile Virus in Tennessee in Shelby County.

Mosquito populations in Tennessee are at their peak May through October. There is no human vaccine for the virus.

“West Nile has been present in our state since 2001, and along with recent news about chikungunya virus is a reminder mosquitoes can carry disease and sometimes death, just as they did in our historic past here in Tennessee,” says TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “We know most mosquitoes live their lives and die within a few blocks of the typically stagnant standing water where they were born. Reducing breeding areas is an old strategy we need to bring back to protect our families, neighbors and customers, so in addition to personal bite protection, we urge people across Tennessee to remove standing water around their homes and businesses.”

Tennessee had 24 human cases of West Nile Virus last year, including three that resulted in death.

Mosquitoes become infected with the virus by feeding on infected birds, and can then transmit the virus through their bites. Most human infections are either asymptomatic or mild. Symptoms may include fever, head and body aches, and usually last only a few days. The virus cannot be spread from one person to person.

Horses can also be infected with West Nile Virus. Tennessee had four confirmed cases of WNV in horses in 2013. Horse owners should be sure their animals are current on vaccinations as well as for eastern equine encephalitis, which is also carried by mosquitoes.

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