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Health Department issues West Nile virus alert

The Shelby County Health Department has received confirmation of mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus within the areas of ZIP codes 38107, 38122, 38053, 38127, and 38002.

Since April, the Shelby County Health Department's Vector Control Program has treated areas by applying larvicides to standing bodies of water. As an additional precaution, the Health Department is conducting truck-mounted spraying (adulticiding) of EPA-approved insecticides, weather permitting. ZIP codes 38053 and 38127 were serviced Wednesday (May 30).

Here is an updated schedule:

• Thursday, May 31: 8:15 p.m. to 11:15 p.m. for ZIP Codes 38108, 38111, 38117, 38120, 38122, 38128, 38133 and 38134.

• Monday, June 4: 8:15 p.m. to 11:15 p.m. for ZIP Codes 38103, 38104, 38105, 38107, 38108, 38112, 38114, 38118, 38126.

Individuals with chronic health problems such as asthma or other lung conditions may want to remain indoors during the time of spraying if they live in one of the affected areas. Residents who do not want their residences to be sprayed should contact the Health Department's Vector Control Program at (901) 324-5547.

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.

Citizens are also encouraged to be vigilant as it relates to controlling mosquito populations around their homes and businesses. Citizens are encouraged to:

• Wear DEET-containing mosquito repellants according to label directions.

• Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs. Check properties for objects – including old tires, flower pots and drip plates, tin cans, buckets, and children's toys – that collect rainwater and either drain or dispose of the water.

• Install or repair windows and door screens.

• Empty, clean and refill birdbaths and small wading pools weekly.

• Empty and refill pets' water bowls every few days.

• Repair failed septic systems.

• Repair leaky outside faucets.

• Clean rain gutters and down spouts.

• Secure swimming pool covers tightly and remove any standing water after rainfall.

• Store wheelbarrows, canoes and boats upside down

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