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Knox County Health Department says don't be afraid of West Nile Virus | Health

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Knox County Health Department says don't be afraid of West Nile Virus
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The Knox County Health Department (KCHD) has trapped and confirmed more mosquitoes with the West Nile Virus than ever before.

That coupled with the increase in deaths from the virus in nearby states has caused health officials to make sure they are ahead of the bite.

Ronnie Nease is the Environmental Health Director for the Knox County Healthy Department. He uses fish and traps to kill off the West Nile carrying insect.

At a pond off Timothy Street in East Knoxville, the county added Gambusia fish years ago. They help keep the mosquito population down by eating the larvae.

"They are very aggressive and multiply," said Nease, "And they mess with the native fish. So, we are very careful where we put them."

Just down the road near the zoo, KCHD has one of more than a dozen traps set out to catch mosquitoes.

Nease explained, "We do trap adult mosquitoes, but the females are the only ones that will bite you."

Health officials change the nets three times a week, put the mosquitoes in a bag, sort them at KCHD, and send them off to a state lab for virus testing.

This summer, the highest number of mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus came back to their office. 

There are six areas of concern, but Nease says you should not be afraid, "Everyone needs to be concerned, but not afraid. It's (West Nile Virus) always here and always will be here. So, we just need to be aware of it and wear your repellant."

"The county is taking a preventative measures," said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, "It's good to be on the front end before someone gets sick." 

Mayor Burchett is behind KCHD in the dollars they spend to tackle the insects now during the height of the bite. 

KCHD also urges everyone to take a look at their property and get rid of standing water.

If you have concerns about your property or your neighbors in regards to pooling water in Knox County, call 865-215-5200.

Click here to find out which six areas KCHD will re-spray this Thursday and Sunday.

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