Posted On: October 17, 2019
An increase in the number of sentinel chickens testing positive for the West Nile virus has prompted the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County (DOH-Volusia) to issue a health advisory.
No human cases of West Nile virus infection have been confirmed in Volusia County. However, the risk of transmission to humans has increased.
Sentinel chickens are used to detect some mosquito-borne illnesses, such as West Nile virus. The birds do not develop disease symptoms but will test positive to antibodies if infected.
While nearly 80% of West Nile virus infections are asymptomatic, people who do develop symptoms may experience mild illness including headache, fever, pain, and fatigue. According to DOH, less than 1% of infected people develop the most severe form of disease, which may involve meningitis and encephalitis and can cause irreversible neurological damage, paralysis, coma or death.
While the peak period of transmission in Florida is July through September, mosquito-borne diseases can be transmitted throughout the fall. West Nile Virus is transmitted to wild birds by Culex mosquitoes. Occasionally, an infected mosquito will bite a human or animal (particularly horses) and cause disease. Culex mosquitoes are known to bite from dusk to dawn.
Volusia County Mosquito Control and DOH-Volusia continue surveillance and prevention efforts. Residents and visitors should avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by taking basic precautions help to limit exposure, including:
DRAIN standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying.
COVER skin with clothing or repellent.
Tips on repellent use
COVER doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house.
For more information on what repellent is right for you, consider using the Environmental Protection Agency’s search tool to help you choose skin-applied repellent products: http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/#searchform.
The department continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile virus infections, Eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, malaria, chikungunya and dengue. Florida residents are encouraged to report dead birds at http://legacy.myfwc.com/bird/default.asp. For more information, visit DOH’s website.