The Cumberland County Health Department is urging people to protect themselves from viruses transmitted by mosquitoes. Health department officials have confirmed West Nile virus in a bird found recently in Cumberland County, indicating the virus is present in the area.
“We don’t want anyone to be alarmed, but we do want people to know it is important to take steps to protect yourself from bites from mosquitoes that may transmit West Nile virus,” said Dr. Fred Vossel, Upper Cumberland Regional Medical Director. “Mosquitoes may still be active until our first hard frost, so we need to continue following simple measures to prevent mosquito bites and eliminate areas where mosquitoes may breed.”
There are a number of effective ways to control mosquitoes in your neighborhood and to protect yourself and from harm:
• Use insect repellants such as DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 on your skin, following all label recommendations for usage. Pay particular attention to recommendations for use on children, and never apply any of these products around the mouth or eyes at any age. Consult your health care provider if you have questions.
• Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, so take extra precautions at these times.
• Eliminate standing water near your home, which can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Many containers, even those as small as a bottle cap, can hold enough water for mosquitoes to breed.
• Keep wading pools empty when not in use and store them on their sides. Replace water in bird baths weekly and don’t allow water to stand in buckets or barrels. If you have a rain collection barrel, make sure it has a tight-fitting screen on the top.
• Keep windows and doors closed or cover with screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.
• Certain products containing permethrin are recommended for use on clothing, shoes and camping gear. Permethrin is highly effective as a repellent; clothing treated with permethrin repels and kills mosquitoes and other pests and retains this effect after repeated laundering. Some products are available pretreated with permethrin. Permethrin is not to be used directly on skin.
• Do not use perfumes, colognes or scented deodorants or soap if you’re going outside, as fragrances may attract insects.
• Remember “long, loose and light” when choosing clothes to wear outdoors. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants are best, and for improved effectiveness, tuck your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants to form bug barriers. Wear loose-fitting clothing to prevent bites through the fabric. Light-colored clothes are less attractive to many insects and may allow you to spot them more easily.
Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile virus by feeding on infected birds and can transmit the virus through their bites. Those at higher risk for serious complications from WNV include the elderly, persons who abuse alcohol and those with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and cardiovascular disease. Symptoms usually appear between three to 14 days after a mosquito bite occurs and may include fever, aches and fatigue early in the illness. Those with severe illness may experience neck stiffness, disorientation, stupor, tremors, convulsions, loss of vision, numbness and paralysis.
Persons who think they may have West Nile virus should seek medical care immediately. Treatment of severe cases of WNV often involves hospitalization, administration of intravenous fluids, assistance with breathing and nursing care.
For more information about West Nile virus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, go to www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm.
The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. For more information about TDH services and programs, visit http://health.state.tn.us/.