Mosquitoes starting to bite in East Tennessee

11:29 PM, May 20, 2013   |    comments
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A Knox County Health Department mosquito trap

A wet spring and climbing temperatures mean mosquitoes are making their comeback to East Tennessee. The Knox County Health Department is already working to stay ahead of the seasonal problem.

Earlier this month, the health department started setting traps all around the county to test the bugs for West Nile Virus. So far, each of the tests have come back with only negative results. In Nashville, officials have already seen some positive results.

While it's still early in the season, some East Tennesseans are already feeling that familiar bite.

"We're getting a lot of calls saying the mosquitoes are really out there, and they're biting and really bothering us right now," said Ronnie Nease, Knox County Health Department's Director of Environmental Health. "So it will be interesting to see what our trapping results are this week."

"It's a little early for Knox County to have positives," he said.

Last year, Knox County recorded two human cases of West Nile Virus. Health officials say there were none for several years before that.

East Tennessee has experienced a record level of rainfall so far this year, totaling about 11.5 inches above average. Although Nease said it's difficult to predict how mosquitoes will react, the wet weather is often a good indicator of breeding behavior.

"We never really know about how it's going to reflect into our breeding, but standing water does give us places to have mosquitoes breeding," he said.

If health officials find West Nile Virus in the local mosquito or animal population, then they spray in that area. Nease encourages people to manage standing water pools around their homes, and to always use bug spray.

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