NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As of August, the Metro Public Health Department has reportedly detected West Nile virus in 75% of mosquito traps placed around Davidson County.

On Friday, Aug. 11, the health department confirmed at least one positive case was detected in 30 out of 40 of its traps. However, there still have not been any human cases reported. According to officials, human infections are fairly rare.

“We haven’t had a positive human case since at least 2019,” said Matthew Peters, communications director for the Metro Public Health Department, who added that only one in five people who get West Nile virus develop symptoms.

A map showing where samples of mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus as of Aug. 10, 2023. (Courtesy: Metro Public Health Department)

Typically, symptoms are similar to those experienced during a cold and can look like a fever, headache, fatigue, rash and some aches. In rare cases, Peters said it can be a much more serious disease, resulting in neurological issues.

The tests show that the virus has become more widespread since the first positive sample was collected on June 27 from a mosquito trap near the intersection of Bell Road and Anderson Road in Southeast Nashville.

According to the health department, there are typically around 20 mosquitoes caught in each trap, meaning at least one of them has tested positive for West Nile virus in 30 of those traps. That number is higher than previous years, but officials point to wetter conditions as the reason.

“It’s been fairly rainy this summer and that definitely can play a role,” Peters said. “So, this is a high number and it’s something we are paying close attention to. And that’s why we think it’s important that people know what they can do to prevent it.”

Additional steps are reportedly being taken to educate residents in the impacted areas and monitor for the disease. Pest management will be revisiting the areas and setting additional traps, as well as applying larvicide if mosquito larvae are present.

Residents in the impacted areas will also be getting fliers with information on how to protect themselves against biting mosquitoes and how to reduce standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs, according to the health department.

“If you have to be outside, especially at dusk, long sleeves and bug spray certainly helps,” Peters said. “But yes, eliminating standing water from your property is the best way to protect your family.”

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The Metro Public Health Department began trapping mosquitoes in all parts of Davidson County in May and sending them to be tested at the Tennessee Department of Health’s lab. Larvicide is applied anytime larvae are present. Although, there are no plans to kill adult mosquitoes.

Health department officials recommend residents in all parts of Davidson County take steps to reduce mosquito breeding areas. This includes:

  • Reduce or eliminate all standing water in your yard – especially in children’s toys, bird baths, clogged gutters, tires, flowerpots, trashcans, and wheelbarrows.
  • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with Gambusia fish.
  • Apply mosquito dunks in standing water areas on your property.
  • Cut back overgrown vegetation, where mosquitos can easily hide.

Health officials also recommend taking the following steps to protect against biting mosquitoes, including:

  • Limit time outdoors at dusk and nighttime hours when mosquitoes are present.
  • If you must be outdoors, then wear a mosquito repellent that is approved for use by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – those include products that contain DEET, Picaridin, and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
  • Wear shoes, socks, long sleeve shirts and pants when outdoors during dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most prevalent. Clothing should be light colored and made of tightly woven materials to keep mosquitoes away from the skin. Pant legs should be tucked into shoes or socks, and collars should be buttoned.
  • Make sure your windows and doors have screens and are in good repair

To find out more information about mosquito control in Davidson County, call 615-340-5660. More information can also be found by clicking here.