First Human West Nile Virus Case of 2006 Confirmed
One Shelby County Resident Tests Positive
The Tennessee Department of Health announces the first reported human case of West Nile virus found in Tennessee this year. The Department laboratory in Nashville confirmed a Shelby County resident tested positive for the virus. The patient is hospitalized and expected to make a full recovery.
“Late summer and early fall are peak times for people to get West Nile virus and people need to continue to take precautions,” said State Epidemiologist Allen Craig, M.D. “It is important to take steps to protect yourself from mosquito bites, particularly during the times when mosquitoes are most active and most likely to bite – around dawn, dusk and at night.”
West Nile virus activity in Tennessee was lower in 2005 compared to data compiled when testing began in 2002 and 2003; however, Shelby County has found significant levels of the virus in mosquitoes tested from various areas of the county since June. Elsewhere in Tennessee, positive mosquitoes have been found in Davidson County and three positive horses have been found in Tipton and Shelby counties in the West Region and Franklin County in the Southeast Region. There have not been any cases in birds reported so far this year. These are much lower numbers than 2002 and 2003 when positive birds and horses numbered in the hundreds. Nationally, 388 human cases of West Nile Virus had been reported as of August 15.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. It cannot be spread by contact with an infected person. While usually not serious in humans, it can sometimes lead to encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.
Simple steps can help reduce mosquitoes and mosquito breeding during mosquito season (April through October):
- Use a mosquito repellent containing DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus whenever outdoors. Even spending a short time outdoors can be long enough to get a mosquito bite. Follow use instructions on the product.
- Wearing the right clothing can help reduce mosquito bites. When possible, wear long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors.
- Be aware of peak mosquito hours. Peak mosquito biting times are between dusk and dawn for many species of mosquitoes.
- Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by getting rid of items that collect water, including toys, bird baths, old tires, buckets and other items that might hold standing water.
- Make sure doors and windows are screened if you keep them open and repair any damage to screens.
For more information about WNV, visit the Department of Health’s Web site at http://www.tn.gov/health/ and click on the “Health Topics/Fact Sheets” section.