Officials warn of increased risk of West Nile virus

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – Indian River County Health Department and Indian River Mosquito Control District are urging residents to be diligent in their personal mosquito protection. West Nile Virus (WNV) infection is increasing in sentinel chickens in Indian River County.

Surveillance data from the Indian River Mosquito Control District indicates that there have now been WNV-infected sentinel chickens found in five of the eight county sentinel flocks. One of the sentinel flocks had half the sentinel chickens positive the week of Sept. 2.

In the past four years (2006-2009), there have been no West Nile Virus positive seroconversions in sentinel chicken flocks in Indian River County.

Indian River Mosquito Control District expects increased activity to continue, as there were significant rainfall events Aug. 28-31 and Sept. 4-8.

Summer rains encourage mosquito activity; this pattern was seen after the rainfall of Aug. 22-24, which resulted in increased in WNV infection in the county’s sentinel chicken flocks.

There is also increased WNV activity in sentinel chickens in Brevard and Osceola Counties, with Osceola County under a Mosquito-Borne Illness Advisory.

Sentinel activity is an indication that West Nile Virus is in the community and transmission to humans is possible. The key to avoiding infection from mosquito bites is prevention and you can make a difference.

Prevention is especially important during the summer rainy season, which coincides with peak mosquito activity. Indian River Mosquito Control District monitors mosquito activity and develops effective pest and disease reduction methodologies to control their activity. Mosquitoes may carry diseases including West Nile Virus (WNV), Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE), malaria and dengue.

As a seasonal reminder, protect yourself from mosquito bites by following the “5 D’s,” which are:

Dusk and Dawn – Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are biting. When indoors use your air conditioner or use screens on windows and doors.

Dress – Wear clothing that covers most of your skin.

DEET – Use repellents containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, or N,N-diethyl-3- methylbenzamide). Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535 and Permethrin are other repellent options.

Drainage – Check around your home to rid the area of standing water, which is where mosquitoes can lay their eggs. Standing water can collect in small buckets, animal drinking bowls, bird baths, potted plants and bases, ornamental fountains, uncovered boats, garbage cans, coolers, discarded tires and clogged roof gutters.

Follow these tips for correct repellent use:

Read label directions carefully for the approved usage before applying a repellent to skin. Some repellents are not suitable for children. According to the CDC, mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of 3 years. DEET is not recommended on children younger than 2 months old.

Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET are generally recommended. Mosquito repellents containing picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 can also be applied directly on skin. Permethrin can be used on clothing.

Apply insect repellent to exposed skin, or onto clothing, but not under clothing.

Infants should be kept indoors or mosquito netting should be used over carriers when mosquitoes are present.

Most people who become sick from mosquitoes have mild symptoms like headache, fever, dizziness and fatigue, but more severe symptoms are possible. Anyone with severe symptoms should consult their primary care physician or seek immediate medical care.

Physicians should contact their county health department if they suspect an individual may have a mosquito-borne illness. Department of Health laboratories provide testing services for physicians treating patients with clinical signs of mosquito-borne disease.

For more information on mosquito-borne illnesses, visit Department of Health’s Environmental Health Web site at or call the Indian River County Health Department at (772) 794-7440.

For more information on Indian River Mosquito Control District and their activities including spray trucks, larval control, source reduction, tire collection, disease surveillance, and research visit or call the Mosquito Control District at (772) 562-2393.

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