Recently trapped mosquitoes in Hamilton County have tested positive for the West Nile Virus.

“While West Nile Virus isn’t new to our area,” says Director of Environmental Health Services Bonnie Deakins, “This is a reminder that mosquito bites are not just a harmless, itchy thing that goes away. About 1 in 5 of those infected will develop a fever and other symptoms, while about 1 in 150 could develop serious illness.”

Milder symptoms can include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Severe symptoms could include coma or paralysis.

Deakins says the best way to protect yourself is to take self-care measures. 

"You need to be sure to use repellent if you're going to be outside. And wear clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible," she said.

Those measures also extend to your home. Since mosquitoes breed in water, it's best to get rid of standing water sources wherever possible. 

"Any birdbaths or tires or planters, some things you'll need to dump out and scrub once a week if you keep water in them," Deakins said. 

It isn't necessary to be worried about contracting the disease from another person. The disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. It is not spread through coughing, sneezing, or touching.

Although birds can be infected by the West Nile Virus, neither live nor dead birds can transmit the virus to humans. However, when disposing of a dead bird always use gloves. In a small number of cases, the virus has been transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.

Deakins says the Health Department wants people to know there's no reason for panic, but she does recommend taking all of the proper steps to protect yourself. 

West Nile Virus is the most common mosquito-borne virus in the United States, according to a news release from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department.

From 2012-2017, seven cases of West Nile Virus were reported to the Health Department. During the same time, eighty-two cases were reported across Tennessee.