West Nile Virus kills Shelby County resident

(WMC-TV) - A Shelby County resident is Tennessee's first person to die from West Nile Virus since 2009, state health officials said Thursday.

Officials said the victim was an adult male, and died within the past couple of weeks.

According to state officials, there have been 14 total human cases in Tennessee this year, nine of which were reported in Shelby County.

"Although we have had much cooler temperatures in the past few weeks, the threat of mosquitoes is still present," said Dr. Helen Morrow, Health Officer for the Shelby County Health Department, in a press release.

West Nile Virus is transmitted to humans when a person is bitten by an infected mosquito.

"We encourage residents and visitors to continue to take effective action to protect themselves from mosquito bites that could carry the virus," Morrow said.

According to the Shelby County Health Department, mosquito populations are at their peak May through October, and there is no human vaccine for West Nile virus.

Officials gave the following tips for avoiding mosquitos and preventing their spread.

-Wear DEET-containing mosquito repellant's according to label directions

-Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs. Check properties for objects - including old tires, flower pots and drip plates, tin cans, buckets, and children's toys - that collect rainwater and either drain or dispose of the water

-Install or repair windows and door screen

-Empty, clean and refill birdbaths and small wading pools week

-Empty and refill pets' water bowls every few day

-Repair failed septic systems

-Repair leaky outside faucets

-Clean rain gutters and down spouts

-Secure swimming pool covers tightly and remove any standing water after rainfall

-Store wheelbarrows, canoes and boats upside down

-Stock ornamental lawn ponds with fish (Gambusia) that eat mosquito larvae (Gambusia fish are available FREE from the Vector Control Program)

"Vector Control has confirmed West Nile virus in mosquitoes found in all ZIP codes in Shelby County," said Dr. Dan Sprenger, Manager of Shelby County Health Department's Vector Control Program. "Although the counts are in decline, mosquitoes will continue to breed and present a risk for transmitting West Nile virus until after the first frost of the year."

Horses can also be infected with West Nile virus, county officials said. Shelby County has had two confirmed cases of West Nile virus in horses this year.

For more information on West Nile virus, visit the Tennessee Department of Health website at http://health.state.tn.us/CEDS/WNV/wnvhome.asp

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