UPDATE - Birds Test Positive for West Nile Virus (7/31/02)


814 Jefferson Ave.

Memphis, Tennessee 38105

UPDATE - Birds Test Positive for

West Nile Virus in Shelby County

For Immediate Release:

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Memphis, TN. ¾ The Memphis and Shelby County Health Department, announced today that the Tennessee Department of Health laboratory in Nashville has identified a total of sixty-eight (68) birds found in Shelby County to be positive for West Nile Virus (WNV).  This total is 22 more than was reported last week, and is due to the high volume of dead blue jays and/or crows that have been submitted over the past couple of weeks.  Positive birds have been confirmed in Coffee County (Manchester), Davidson (Nashville), Robertson County (Cross Plains), Tipton and Haywood.  Bringing the statewide total for this year up to 77 positive birds out of 313 birds tested.  There has been one (1) positive Equine in a horse in Jefferson County, out of a total of 45 tested.  No human cases of the WNV have been reported to date in Tennessee. 

Positive birds in Shelby County were found in zip codes:
























Memphis and Shelby County Health Department continues aggressive larviciding and surveillance activities throughout Memphis and Shelby County.  Within zip codes where positive birds are identified, adulticiding (“spraying”) has been implemented.  In addition, with the help of volunteers from neighborhood associations, flyers are being distributed in specific zip codes giving residents information on how to eliminate mosquito breeding in their yards and prevention measures for their families.  West Nile Virus Fact Sheets have also been provides at various Memphis and Shelby County Public Libraries, made available at Public Health Clinics and posted on various media websites along with the Shelby County Government website (www.co.shelby.tn.us).  This week the Health Department also established a West Nile Virus HOTLINE at 901-544-7503 for residents to obtain general information about the WNV and to report dead NON-DECOMPOSED dead blue jays or crows.

According to CDC, the likelihood of people becoming ill after being bitten by an infected mosquito is much less than 1 percent.  In areas where WNV has been detected, CDC estimates that less than 1 percent of mosquitoes actually carry the virus.

Since the beginning of the mosquito season, in early April this year, the Health Department’s Vector Control Program has worked to reduce mosquito breeding throughout Shelby County with the aggressive elimination of mosquitoes by extensive application of larvicide to sites of standing water that cannot be emptied or drained.  Daily monitoring of mosquitoes in the city and county has been conducted by collecting mosquito larvae and adult mosquitoes to help the Department to determine the distribution, density and type of mosquitoes in our community. 

The Health Department advises that citizens can minimize the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes by following these precautions:

·         Reduce or eliminate all standing water in your yard (ex. – gutters, plastic pools, tires, etc.)

·         Change the water in your birdbath every 2 - 3 days to keep it from becoming a mosquito breeding ground.

·         Make sure all your windows and doors have screens and are in good repair.

·         The best protection would be to stay inside after dusk and just before dawn.  However that is not possible for most life styles.

·         Protect yourself from mosquito bites by using a repellent (DEET) and by wearing long sleeve shirts and other protective clothing during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most prevalent.  Light colored clothes are less attractive to mosquitoes.

Caution:  Always apply insect repellants in accordance to manufacturer’s instructions.



Shelby County citizens that live in zip codes where there has NOT been a dead bird testing positive for the WNV, are urged to report recent non-decomposed dead crows or blue jays by calling the WNV HOTLINE at (901) 544-5703.  These birds seem more susceptible to the virus and die within a few days of being infected. 

If a non-decomposed dead blue jay or crow is found during the time when the health department is closed, call 544-5703 and leave a message regarding the dead bird, including your name, address, zip code and phone number and the date on which the bird was found.  Then carefully use plastic or gloves to pick up the dead bird and place in a zip lock storage bag and place the packaged dead bird in a cooler on ice until a health department official can pick up the bird on the 1st business day.  

Individuals outside of Shelby County should contact their state or local health department.

            For more information regarding the West Nile Virus or what you can do around your home or business to reduce mosquito activity, please check out our web site, www.co.shelby.tn.us.