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Knox Co. Health Dept. works to prevent mosquito-transmitted disease in East TN

The Knox County Health Department routinely tests areas with mosquitos that show signs of West Nile Virus.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — Higher temperatures in East Tennessee don't only mean warm nights and sweaty, summer-like days. It also signals the start of mosquito season.

The bugs are annoying and can carry diseases. However, health officials said that the risk of contracting the West Nile Virus from mosquitos in East Tennessee is low. The Knox County Health Department said the last human case of the virus was in 2017.

Health officials in Knox County also said they routinely test adult mosquitos across the area to see if the risk of disease is higher in one area over another. If the tests are positive for some kinds of illnesses, then the health department sprays areas overnight to kill off mosquito populations.

People can also take some steps to prevent mosquitos from thriving in their area. They usually thrive in wet and damp areas, laying eggs and hatching in pools of still water. Small pools and birdbaths could end up becoming breeding spots for mosquitos in East Tennessee.

To avoid this, experts say people should cover any outdoor equipment they have with still water. Pools should be covered, and the water in birdbaths should be routinely replaced.

Keeping lawns low and regularly mowing can also help prevent mosquito populations from growing. Moisture can collect in tall grass, giving mosquitos a place to breed.

To avoid getting bit by mosquitos, people can also wear a long-sleeved, light-colored shirt. Bug repellant that uses DEET can also effectively thwart mosquitos, according to experts. It repels most biting insects and is used in many popular bug repellent brands.