Mosquito-borne West Nile virus creeps further into Shelby County

mosquitoesMEMPHIS — The Shelby County Health Department has received confirmation of mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus within ZIP code 38115 (Memphis/Hickory Hill). To date, positive tests pools have been previously confirmed in the ZIP codes of 38017 (Collierville), 38116 (Memphis), and 38122 (Memphis, just south of Bartlett).

Since March, the Shelby County Health Department’s Vector Control Program has treated areas by applying larvicides to standing bodies of water. These actions are consistent with the Health Department’s efforts to be proactive in decreasing the adult mosquito population. Larviciding is the practice of applying an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insecticide to areas where mosquito breeding has been confirmed and is the most effective way of eliminating mosquito populations.

As an additional precaution, the Health Department will conduct mosquito control activities, including truck-mounted spraying (adulticiding) of EPA-approved insecticides, weather permitting*, in portions of specific ZIP codes. The remaining spray date this week is on Thursday, July 7, from 8:45 p.m. through 11:45 p.m. in ZIP codes: 38103, 38107 and 38127.

Citizens can see the exact boundaries of each scheduled spray at New maps will be added weekly to reflect updated schedules.

Truck mounted spraying only effectively kills adult mosquitoes that are currently flying at the time the insecticide is released. Because of this, residents are urged to be vigilant in controlling mosquito populations around their homes and businesses.

  • Defend yourself by using insect repellent. Follow label instructions.
  • Dress in long sleeves and pants, loose and light colored clothing when outdoors.
  • At dusk and dawn, stay indoors to avoid mosquitoes when they are most active.
  • Drain standing water and install or repair window screens.

Individuals with chronic health problems such as asthma or other lung conditions may want to remain indoors during the time of spraying. Citizens who do not want their residences to be sprayed should contact the Health Department’s Vector Control Program at (901) 222-9715.

Humans can catch the West Nile virus through being bitten by an infected mosquito. Although West Nile virus can occasionally cause severe disease, most human infections are mild, resulting in fever, headache and body aches that last only a few days. Symptoms of severe disease include a high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma or convulsions.

Persons over age 50 and those with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of severe disease. They should especially be careful to avoid mosquito bites.

To ensure the insecticide is most effective, the scheduled spraying will be canceled if any of these conditions are present for most of the spray time:

  • Greater than a 65% chance of rain
  • Wind speeds 11mph or greater
  • Temperature less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit

For the most up-to-date cancelations of any scheduled sprayings, follow @ShelbyTNHealth on Twitter.