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Mosquito risk increased by recent Flooding

Residents Urged to Use Repellents, Other Methods to Prevent Bites

Tennessee Department of HealthNashville, TN – Standing water provides the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, and flooded areas in Tennessee could easily cause populations of these disease-carrying pests to flourish.

The Tennessee Department of Health is reminding the residents working to clean up homes, businesses and other facilities in Tennessee to take steps to help prevent illnesses associated with mosquitoes.

“As families work to clean out and restore their homes in the days and weeks ahead, it’s very important that mosquito repellents be used and other precautions be taken to protect individual health,” said Abelardo C. Moncayo, PhD, director of Vector-Borne Diseases program for TDOH.

Recent flooding positions the state to see a significant increase in mosquito activity. Tennesseans should take precautions to protect themselves from West Nile Virus and other diseases transmitted by mosquito bites. Mosquitoes most likely to transmit WNV bite at dawn and dusk. The best way to prevent WNV infection is to avoid mosquito bites.

These simple tips can help. 

  • If you must go outside at dawn or dusk, use insect repellent or wear long sleeves, long pants and socks.
  • If possible, eliminate standing water near your home. Many containers, even those as small as a bottle cap, can hold enough water for mosquitoes to breed.
  • Keep windows and doors closed or cover them with screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.
  • Use insect repellent containing either DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535. 

There are guidelines for using the suggested insect repellents. Neither DEET nor Picaridin should be used on infants younger than two months old. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children younger than two years of age. DEET at 30 percent concentration is the maximum level recommended for children and infants over two months old. None of these products should be applied around the mouth or eyes at any age.

A mosquito bites a human
A mosquito bites a human

“Mosquito populations in Tennessee are at their peak May through October. We are calling on everyone to prevent mosquito bites and control the insects around homes if at all possible,” said John Dunn, DVM, PhD, public health veterinarian with TDOH.

Mosquitoes become infected with WNV by feeding on infected birds, and can then transmit the virus through their bites. Symptoms may include fever, head and body aches, and usually last only a few days. The virus cannot be spread from one person to another.

WNV can cause severe infections, which occur in less than one percent of human cases. These severe infections may cause meningitis or encephalitis and result in high fever, neck stiffness, stupor or disorientation. Severe cases may also cause muscle weakness or paralysis.

For more information about West Nile Virus, visit the TDOH website at http://health.state.tn.us/ceds/WNV/wnvhome.asp.

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