Hamblen County looks to neighbors for help battling West Nile

Hamblen County looks to neighbors for help battling West Nile

Posted:

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

TALBOTT (WATE) - Hamblen County is looking to its neighbors for help defending residents against the West Nile Virus.

Nationwide, 2012 is shaping up to be one of the worst on record for the mosquito-borne disease.

In East Tennessee, human cases of West Nile have been reported in Greene, Hawkins and Knox counties.

Knox County sprays for mosquitoes, but Hamblen County does not, and that's a concern after a dead bird found there tested positive for West Nile.

Laura Sturtevant found another dead bird in her yard this weekend and has been begging county officials to do something.

Now, Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain is looking into options to spray for mosquitoes for the first time.

"There have been no human cases reported in Hamblen County or any of the counties that border us so we don't want to make a big deal out of it when there's no reason to yet. But we want to be cautious and prepared in case we need to take action," the mayor explained.

Mayor Brittain says the county has never dealt with a situation like this and it doesn't have any of the equipment.

But after the 6 News' story last week with Laura Sturtevant, he's working to find the funds to make people feel safe. "If it's just a single neighborhood or a limited area, we can find the money to do that," he said.

Mayor Brittain is looking to other county mayors for help, including Knox County. "The first option would be to contract with someone that already does it so we've made some inquires into that."

After Sturtevant found the second dead bird, which hasn't been tested for West Nile, neighbors say spraying needs to happen.

"Something has to be done about it," said Eddie Horner, who takes care of an older man across the street from the Sturtevant's home.

"We have a lot of older people in our neighborhood and was worried for them, especially my client because we're outside 90 percent of the time," Horner said.

Joanna Pelot hadn't heard about her neighbor's bird. "That really surprises me," she said.

But Pelot has been cautious all summer, refilling her bird bath daily, wearing bug spray. She hopes now something may finally done about the mosquito problem.

"I hope they spray because I've been watching them spray in Knoxville all summer, but what about here?" she asked.

Mayor Brittain says they're still investigating how and if they will spray. He said if they do, it would not be a comprehensive spray of the whole county. It would be limited it to a case-by-case basis.

Officials hope to make a decision by Friday.

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