Health officials warn of mosquito-borne illness increase in St. Johns County

West Nile, EEE detected -- but no human cases confirmed

By Michelle Ganley - Graham Media Group
James Gathany/CDC

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - In St. Johns County, an increase in activity for West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis was recently detected, health officials said Wednesday.

Officials were conducting routine surveillance assessments on sentinel chickens, which are used to detect some mosquito-borne illnesses, and confirmed the increase.

The Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County is now advising residents of the spike.

"It is important to note that there are no known human cases of WNV or EEE confirmed at this time," health officials said in a news release. "However, the potential for the risk of transmission to humans has increased."

The Health Department, along with the Anastasia Mosquito Control District, continue their surveillance and prevention efforts.

People should take the same basic precautions as always to help limit exposure. Here are some tips, provided by health officials:

Drain:

  • Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
  • Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that are not in use.
  • Empty and clean birdbaths and pets' water bowls at least once or twice a week.
  • Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don't accumulate water.
  • Maintain swimming pools -- keep them in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when they're not in use.

Cover:

  • Keep your skin protected with clothing or repellent.
  • Wear shoes, socks and long pants and long sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.
  • Use repellent.
  • Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, and IR3535 are effective.
  • Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.
  • In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate. 
  • Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house.
  • Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches and patios.

To find the right mosquito-repellent for your individual needs, consider using the Environmental Protection Agency's search tool to help you choose.
 
The Florida Department of Health continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile, EEE, St. Louis encephalitis, malaria, chikungunya and dengue.

People are encouraged to report dead birds through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's website.

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