Mosquito spraying for West Nile scheduled for Tuesday night

Published: Aug. 22, 2016 at 10:38 AM EDT
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A lab report confirmed the presence of West Nile virus in the Fourth Avenue area of Knoxville.

The Knox County Health Department set 18 traps back in early May. Once they collected the traps, they sent them to Nashville to be tested. One of those traps came back positive for West Nile.

“I know we’ve talked a lot about Zika and the Aedes mosquito this summer, but it’s important for the public to remember that mosquitoes can transmit other diseases, such as West Nile or La Crosse encephalitis. And unlike Zika, mosquitoes in Tennessee are known carriers of these other diseases,” said Vector Control Supervisor Andrea Woodard. “Regardless of the disease, the public can help reduce all mosquito-borne illnesses by wearing repellent and removing standing water from their property.”

The area will be sprayed Tuesday, August 23 between 9 p.m. and 12 a.m.

Signs will be posted in the affected neighborhoods. Those living in the area will be asked to stay inside during the spraying and keep pets inside or in the backyard. They say this is out of an abundance of caution. The health department follows the CDC's recommendation with spraying and says the chemicals aren't dangerous for humans.

"They aren't dangerous. They don't even have a residual, meaning they don't stick on things and stay there forever. It's going to evaporate a lot like bleach does in water. So, whenever we go out and spray it's not something that you can expect to stay around for a long time and it has to actually make contact with the mosquito to kill it," says Woodard.

The health department says while the chemicals in the spray could be harmful to other insects, their main priority is keeping people safe.

"We've used the same chemicals for years that we know are low in toxicity and that we know have the least amount of impact on the environment around us. That is something we take into consideration. But, the public's health and making sure they protected against the disease is our number one goal," says Woodard.

A local bee expert says anything that is sprayed can be harmful to bees. But, there are safe ways to do it.

The Knox County Health Department sprays at night when the bees are usually in their hives and the danger is minimal. The department also has a list of local beekeepers that they keep handy when it comes time to spray.

"I have a whole list of beekeepers and I evaluate the whole list before I send them out to spray and we turn our sprayers off before we get to beekeepers," says Woodard.

If you are a beekeeper and are worried for the safety of your bees, give the health department a call at 865-215-5300.

The area affected in Tuesday night's spray will be Cooper Street north of West Fifth Avenue; West Fifth Avenue from Cooper Street to Boyd Street; West Fourth Avenue; Elm Street; Marion Street; Dameron Avenue; Hatton Avenue; Burgess Avenue; Baxter Avenue from Elm Street to Wray Street; Lee Street; and Bernard Avenue. This area is scheduled for follow-up spraying on Tuesday, Sept. 6, weather permitting.