"Yeah," says South Nashville resident Arthur Johnson. "We'll get rid of these mosquitoes one way or another."
Johnson lives off Anderson Road in Antioch, one of the areas Metro Health Department traps have found mosquitoes infected with the West Nile virus. One of Johnson's South Nashville neighbors is the city's first West Nile fatality since 2003.
"I'm out here today," says Johnson. "I had just kinda seen some debris laying around and thought I'd start a fire, see if I could get rid of any mosquitoes left in the neighborhood."
Other than the part of town he lived in, South Nashville, about the only thing we know about the victim in this case is that he was 70 years old and he had underlying medical problems. While smoke and chemical sprays can help keep mosquitoes at bay, infectious disease specialists say the best way to protect yourself from West Nile is to get rid of any standing water in your yard. Lipscomb University Disease Ecologist Professor James English used to head the West Nile program for the U.S. Navy. He says a pool cover, even a gutter that doesn't drain properly, can be a breeding ground for mosquito larvae.
"A small puddle, a can with some water in it," says English. "Mosquitoes only need a cup of water to breed, and usually if you're getting bitten by mosquitoes, they're breeding within eyesight."
"It's something that's a serious reminder that don't wait until we have a death, don't wait until you have a confirmed case, but really all through mosquito season people should take precautions to avoid biting mosquitoes," says Metro Health Department's Brian Todd.
Dawn and dusk are the time mosquitoes are most active. Long sleeves and repellent that contains deet is your best protection. Officials say the West Nile threat will end with our first frost.
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