MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County Heath Department has discovered West Nile Virus in mosquitoes in Shelby County.
The mosquitoes were found in the 38115 and 38118 zip codes and are the first traces of the virus to be found in the county in 2019.
Health department officials expect the virus to become widespread in mosquitoes before the end of the summer.
So far, no human cases of West Nile have been reported in 2019. Last year, there were four human cases reported in Shelby County. Three of those people died as a result.
The Health Department's Mosquito Control Program has ramped up their treatment of mosquito-breeding sits in the two impacted zip codes and have set up traps to kill the mosquitoes.
Health officials say people over the age of 50 and those with compromised immune systems are more likely to be infected by West Nile Virus.
“Now that we know there’s been documentation of West Nile we need to be very careful,” Dr. Mark Castellaw with the Baptist Medical Group said.
Over the past few weeks Dr. Castellaw has seen a growing number of patients with mosquito bites, sharing his concerns about the virus.
Symptoms from the virus like fever, headache, body aches, or rash typically appear within two weeks of the bite.
“West Nile is something we don’t need to be hysterical about it but you need to use good common sense,” Dr. Castellaw said.
Chris Baker with the Memphis Zoo says that standing water can become prime breeding ground for mosquitoes.
“It’s vectored by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are the way you are going to get West Nile Virus if you do,” Baker said.
SCHD has these tips to offer to help limit the mosquito population around your home.
- Clean rain gutters and downspouts
- Discard old tires or store inside where rain water cannot collect inside of tires
- Discard tin cans, buckets – any container that might collect water
- Empty and refill pets’ water bowls at least every few days
- Empty, clean and refill birdbaths, “drip plates” underneath flower pots and small wading pools weekly.
They also recommend wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outside, especially at night.