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Mosquito-borne illnesses advisory issued for western Palm Beach County

Several chickens test positive for flavivirus infections, health officials say
File photo
Palm Beach County Mosquito Control
Posted at 10:58 AM, Oct 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-13 18:34:30-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — An uptick in mosquito-borne disease activity in western Palm Beach County prompted a new advisory Wednesday.

The Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County said the advisory impacts western Boca Raton, Jupiter Farms, Belle Glade and Wellington.

Officials said several chickens in their sentinel chicken flock tested positive for flavivirus infections. FDOH said the risk of transmission to humans has increased.

Mosquito-borne illnesses advisory map, Oct. 13, 2021
Multiple communities in Palm Beach County are impacted by the new advisory.

Some of the symptoms of the virus can include nausea, vomiting, rash, aches and pains.

"We set traps throughout the county at a network of locations just to get an idea of what's going on with the current mosquito population, so we always keep an eye out," said Steven Fazekas, an environmental analyst with Palm Beach County Mosquito Control.

Experts said when antibodies from a particular virus are detected in their sentinel chicken flock, they know that a virus is circulating in the local mosquito population.

Mosquito control officials then respond by conducting targeted treatments to lower the number of mosquitoes and reduce the risk of people and animals getting sick.

Mosquitoes collected in Belle Glade in October 2021
Mosquitoes recently collected in Belle Glade by Palm Beach County Mosquito Control.

"Luckily, we had already had an aerial treatment planned. We've had some of that done in the past week, just related to an elevated number of mosquitoes, just from a nuisance level in the western part of the county," Fazekas said.

As the rainy season continues, experts urge residents to take the following steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and to take basic precautions to help limit exposure.

DRAIN standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying

  • Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rainwater has collected
  • Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren't being used
  • Empty and clean birdbaths and pet's 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 in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use

COVER skin with clothing or repellent

  • Clothing - 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
  • Repellent - Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing
  • Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, 2-undecanone and IR3535 are effective
  • Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old

Tips on Repellent Use

  • Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before you apply a repellent. Some repellents are not suitable for children
  • Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET (N, N-diethyl-m- toluamide) are generally recommended.Other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellents contain picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para- menthane-diol, 2-undecanone or IR3535. These products are generally available at local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label
  • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin, or onto clothing, but not under clothing
  • In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol should not be used on children under the age of three years. DEET is not recommended on children younger than two months old
  • Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children. Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child's skin and clothing
  • If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing. Again, always follow the manufacturer's directions

COVER doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house.

  • Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches and patios