Unwelcome guest in Town

Dead crow in Farragut Crossing tests positive for West Nile Virus

When Angela Baakko, a Farragut Crossing resident, looked outside and saw a “black hump” in her backyard, she knew it shouldn’t be there.

“It just looked out of place,” she said.

The dead crow she found in her yard Aug. 24 tested positive for West Nile Virus.

“I’ve just known for a long time any kind of dead bird’s not good and I could tell it was fresh and it didn’t look like anything was wrong with it. So I just Googled ‘Knox County’ and ‘dead birds’ and came across the health department website and called the number,” Baakko said. “They instructed me to preserve it and save it if I could. I was able to since I had some cooling packs and I happened to have a Styrofoam cooler. My son gets refrigerated medicines, so I happened to have that, so I packed it up and they came by the next morning and picked it up.

“They sent that off for testing and I spoke with them [Sept. 7] about the results and they told me it did test positive for West Nile,” she added. “One of my kids is immunosuppressed from a transplant, so I’m always listening for things out there.

He’s doing great. He had a heart transplant when he was 6 weeks old, but you’d never know it by looking at him.”

“When we find a bird, we try to concentrate on that area to reduce the adult population of mosquitos,” said Ronnie Nease, director of Environmental Health for Knox County Health Department. Mosquitos will feed on the bird and then they could get the virus from the bird and transfer it to a human. ... They’re kind of a host. They have the potential to transfer it to a human.”

Should the residents of Farragut Crossing be concerned?

“The main thing is to continue to be vigilant and wear their repellent or long sleeves and long pants when outdoors,” Nease said.

“They need to also tip and toss any water they can find,” he added, “because any water is a breeding site. An example would be now that school is back in, there could be toys left outside, little wading pools … anything that retains water.”

Looking back, “West Nile Virus has been in Knox County for years and years — since 2000,” Nease said. “What we’re trying to do by spraying is reduce the incident of adult mosquitos biting a person.”

Knox County officials were scheduled to spray in Farragut Crossing, weather permitting, Tuesday evening, Sept. 12, Nease added. “… We go down the street and it goes about 50 feet. It’s a very environmentally-safe spray. The process we’re using is a CDC protocol.

“The latest lab report has confirmed the presence of West Nile virus in Culex mosquitoes in the ... West Kingston Pike area of West Knox County,” stated a Sept. 8 press release from Katharine Killen, community relations director for KCHD. “… The Farragut Crossing area of Farragut and the Turkey Creek area of West Knoxville have each had a crow or jay test positive for WNV.”

“Crows and jays do not transmit West Nile to humans, but they get it from mosquitoes just like we do,” Nease stated in the release. “Like mosquitoes, crows and jays are part of the CDC protocol for West Nile virus surveillance. They are considered a sentinel or an indicator of the presence of the virus in an area; it’s not uncommon for us to have a West Nile-positive bird.

“While there is no evidence that a person can get infected from handling live or dead infected birds, it’s important to always avoid bare-hand contact with any dead animal,” Nease added. “If you must pick up a dead bird, use gloves or an inverted plastic bag to place the bird in a garbage bag.”

Areas in and near Farragut scheduled for treatment Tuesday, Sept. 12:

Farragut Crossing area: Farragut Crossing; Belleaire Drive; Vista Trail; Mountain View Road; Crestview Road; Bantry Lane; Harrow Road to Midhurst Drive; Midhurst Drive from East Kingsgate Road to Bantry Lane; East Kingsgate Road; Peterson Road; Byron Lane; Keats Lane; Dorcee Lane and Newgate Drive. Follow-up spraying is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 26, weather permitting.

Turkey Creek area: Gates Mill Drive; Glen Willow Drive; Lake Meadow Drive; Briar Gates

Lane from Glen Iris Lane to Gates Mill Drive; Bancroft Lane; Glen Iris Lane; Woodland Trace Drive; Timberhill Court; Matthews Cove Lane; and Fords Cove Lane.

Follow-up spraying is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 26, weather permitting.

West Kingston Pike area: Hayfield Road; Crowfield Road; all roads connected to Crowfield Road; Triplett Lane; Redmont Lane; Highlander Way; Franklin Hills Boulevard; Windemeer Lane; Hampton Court; Capital Drive; Fox Road to Capital Drive; Perimeter Park Road; Sherway Road; and Sherlake Lane. Follow-up spraying is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 26, weather permitting.