A potentially deadly mosquito-borne illness has been found right here in our region. We've confirmed with the Tennessee Department of Health there has been one case of West Nile virus in Greene County, Tennessee.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports they are seeing the highest number of West Nile virus infections this time of the year than they have since the first US outbreak in 1999.
That's a scary thought for Greene County residents just learning this virus is close to home.
For someone who works outside three to four days a week, mosquitoes are no big deal to Steve Louderback. "Not really," Louderback said. "It'd just raise a little [welt] on me, and that'd be it, and I'd itch just a little bit."
But it's becoming a much bigger deal. We discovered there is one confirmed case of West Nile virus in Greene County. We learned that's makes five cases for the state of Tennessee.
"We've never really had it in this area that I know of, but now that I do know that there is, then I'm going to take more precautions," Louderback told News 5.
In fact, we learned the Greene County Health Department takes precautions of their own by spraying repellant in Greeneville town limits almost every day during mosquito season.
It was a good sight to see for Greeneville resident Ron Williams who said his yard gets covered with the insects.
"I don't know how effective that'll be yet. We'll find out later in the day I guess. They get worse when it gets dark," said Williams.
Dr. David Kirschke with the Northeast Tennessee Regional Health Department told us the best thing to do is avoid being out where mosquitoes are, but if you do find yourself outside, doctors recommend you wear long sleeves and pants or use an EPA approved mosquito repellant.
"Also get rid of areas where mosquitoes can breed around the house, so if there's flowerpots or the gutters aren't cleaning out and they're holding water [dump out the water.]" said Dr. Kirschke.
If infected we're told the disease be anything from non-symptomatic to deadly, but when West Nile is this close to home some don't want to take any chances.
"Especially a person my age may not be able to pull through something like that," said Louderback.
We asked Dr. Kirschke and found out symptoms will often be flu-like with a fever and headache, but the severe form of the disease could produce symptoms of weakness and changes to someone's mental status.
There has also been one confirmed case in Southwest Virginia.