MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Health Department and the Tennessee Department of Health confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus in 2023 in Shelby County this week.

This is also the first human case of West Nile virus reported in the state of Tennessee this year.

West Nile virus can cause serious illness that leads to hospitalization or death. Most cases cause no symptoms and go undetected.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people over age 60 are most likely to develop severe illness.

The health department recommends that all residents protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing protective clothing, staying indoors during dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active, and using mosquito repellents that contain DEET.

West Nile virus is spread by infected mosquitoes. SCHD monitors the presence of the virus in the county’s mosquito populations each summer by trapping and testing mosquitoes throughout the county for the virus. The virus has so far been detected in mosquitoes in 28 Shelby County zip codes, including: 38002, 38016, 38017, 38018, 38028, 38053, 38104, 38106, 38107, 38108, 38109, 38111, 38112, 38114, 38115, 38116, 38117, 38118, 38119, 38122, 38125, 38126, 38127, 38128, 38133, 38134, 38135, and 38138. 

SCHD urges you to take the following precautions to protect yourself against mosquitoes that can spread the West Nile virus:

  • DEFEND yourself by using insect repellent with DEET. Follow label instructions.
  • DRESS in long sleeves and pants. Wear loose and light-colored clothing when outdoors.
  • DUSK/DAWN is the time when mosquitoes are most active. Stay indoors.
  • DRAIN standing water and install or repair window screens.