West Nile virus alert issued

West Nile virus alert issued

Officials with the Volusia County Health Department issued a mosquito-borne illness advisory Monday after seeing a spike in West Nile virus activity in September.

Such an alert is unusual for this time of year, said department director Bonnie Sorensen. “Usually we’re kind of gearing back on all of our positive chickens and alerts.”

However, because of the heat and rain in August and September, the department is seeing an increase in the number of mosquitoes with the virus, Sorensen said. So, the human risk from exposure to mosquito-borne illnesses has increased.

Residents and visitors need to be aware that mosquitoes aren’t gone yet, so “be careful and protect yourselves,” Sorensen said.

Six of the sentinel chickens used to track mosquito activity in the county tested positive for the virus in September. When the chickens are bitten by mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus, they develop antibodies to the disease.

Two chickens tested positive in Flagler County in September, not enough to trigger an advisory.

Even though the Flagler County Health Department hasn’t seen as many infected chickens, Flagler residents also should try to prevent exposure to mosquitoes, department administrator Patrick Johnson said.

Monday’s advisory follows a general increase in mosquito-related illnesses statewide in September. West Nile virus has been found in 30 counties this year, and has infected seven people.

Volusia County already was under an advisory for the mosquito-borne Eastern equine encephalitis.

About 80 percent of the people bitten by mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus never get sick. In the other 20 percent, West Nile can cause mild to severe illness, depending on the person’s overall health.

Symptoms appear within two to 14 days after a bite and may include fever, headache, tiredness, dizziness and confusion.

West Nile is only spread by mosquitoes and can’t be transmitted by an infected person.

To protect against mosquito bites, health officials encourage people to practice the “5 D’s:”

Dusk and Dawn Avoid the outdoors when mosquitoes are feeding.

Dress Wear clothing that covers your skin.

DEET Wear repellents that contain up to 30 percent DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide).

Drainage Eliminate areas of standing water where mosquitoes lay eggs.

Mosquito Control Services

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