Simple Steps Protect You from Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Wednesday, September 06, 2017 | 10:27am

Cases of West Nile Virus, La Crosse Encephalitis increasing in Tennessee

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Health has now confirmed 19 human cases of West Nile Virus infection and 11 cases of La Crosse Virus infection in the state so far in 2017. Mosquito-borne illness is more common during late summer and TDH recommends taking simple steps to avoid mosquito bites and help prevent mosquito-borne illnesses.

‘’We typically see an increase in mosquito-borne illnesses caused by West Nile Virus and La Crosse Virus in our state this time of year,’’ said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. ‘’There are no vaccines for these illnesses, so it’s important to use insect repellent on skin and wear ‘long, loose an light’ clothing to make it harder for mosquitoes to bite and easier to spot them. Buying or properly treating clothes with permethrin, which is like body armor against mosquito bites, is also a good idea for higher-risk situations.’’ 

TDH urges Tennesseans to increase their efforts to avoid mosquitoes. It’s also important to limit mosquito breeding sites. Individuals can eliminate potential breeding sites if they tip and toss standing water and drain and cover objects near homes or businesses that may contain or collect water. A mosquito can lay eggs in a container as small as a soda bottle cap. Additionally, keeping window screens on your home or business in good condition to prevent mosquitoes from entering buildings.

“Many mosquito species do not travel farther than the length of football field or two from where they are hatched,’’ said TDH Vector-Borne Disease Program Director Abelardo Moncayo, PhD. ‘’By establishing a zone where mosquitoes cannot breed around your home, you protect yourself, your family and your neighbors.’’

Follow these additional tips to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Use EPA-approved insect repellants containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 on your skin. Follow all label recommendations for use. Pay particular attention to recommendations for use on children and never apply any of these products around the mouth or eyes at any age. Talk with a health care provider if questions arise.
  • Use products containing permethrin, a highly effective insecticide, for clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear. Permethrin-treated clothing repels and kills ticks, mosquitoes and other pests and retains this effect after repeated laundering. Some commercial products are available pretreated with permethrin. As a caution, however, do not use permethrin directly on skin.                                              
  • Wear ‘’long, loose and light’’ clothing. It’s best to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Tuck pants into socks and shirts into pants. Loose-fitting clothing helps prevent bites through the fabric. Light-colored clothes are less attractive to many insects and help make them easier to spot and remove.

To learn more about protection from mosquito bites and mosquito-borne diseases, visit

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments. Learn more about TDH services and programs at