MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The Shelby County Health Department has confirmed the third human case of West Nile in the county. Every zip code in Shelby County has tested positive for the infected mosquito.
There have been five cases in Tennessee, Arkansas has reported 10, and Mississippi has reported 80 cases. There is no vaccine for the West Nile virus and mosquito season is only half over. Health officials expect the number of human cases to climb in the Mid-South.
The number of mosquitoes infected with West Nile declined between 2006 and 2010 in the Mid-South. However, last year, health experts noticed a change. Mosquito season started a month earlier than normal. That pattern has continued into 2012 and it’s affected a total of 43 states.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 700 people have gotten sick with West Nile and 26 people have died. The majority of cases have been reported from Texas where many cities do not have a mosquito control program. The Shelby County Vector Control started preparing and using preventative tactics before mosquito season to help keep numbers down.
Dr. Dan Sprenger, Shelby County Vector Control, says, “We have quite a sophisticated surveillance system. The purpose of that is direct control to the outbreak as it's developing and to try to contain it.”
Mid-South residents should take preventative measures on their property by removing items that collect water such as bird baths, kiddy pools, and tires. Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Residents should wear Deet-containing repellant, especially at dusk and at night. That is the time of day when mosquitoes carrying West Nile are swarming.