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West Nile Virus detected in northern Palm Beach County

Posted at 3:22 PM, Sep 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-28 08:06:21-04

The Palm Beach County Department of Health says that West Nile Virus has been detected in Jupiter Farms.

The department's early warning system of sentinel chickens revealed the disease. Residents are advised to take precautionary measures to avoid mosquito bites.

“We are constantly monitoring for mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile Virus, Chikungunya, and St. Louis Encephalitis. Today’s confirmation of the presence of West Nile Virus is a good reminder for all to take the necessary preventive measures,” said Department of Health Palm Beach County Director Dr. Alina Alonso.

People are advised to drain any standing water from around the home or businesses, make sure windows and doors are screened properly and use air conditioning. When outside, use an insect repellent containing DEET or Picaridin, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, especially at dusk and dawn.

According to a statement, "DOH-Palm Beach has sentinel chicken flocks strategically placed from Delray Beach to Jupiter and west in Belle Glade and Pahokee. These chickens donate a blood samples weekly to be tested in the Florida State Laboratory for the presence of mosquito-borne viruses. Chickens do not contract the disease but can carry the virus in their blood."

According to the CDC, about 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.

There’s no real offseason for those annoying, flying and biting insects in South Florida. 

But there are ways to slow them down. 

“This is the largest mosquito nursery and it’s under everybody’s home. This is the city water. If you look at the water, you can actually see it moving with mosquito larva,” said George Melit from the Mosquito Squad of the Palm Beaches. “One ounce of water can carry 1-300 mosquitoes in 1-3 days. It’s very impatient to top and turn all your tarps and water over.”

Symptoms of West Nile include vomiting, nausea, and rashes. 

It can also be dangerous to horses. 

“Don’t panic,” says Dr. Eileen Gesoff. 

She is an equine veterinarian, serving the communities in Palm Beach County that are popular for horses, including Jupiter Farms. 

“As long as their horses are vaccinated there’s not much to worry about. The horse can still contract the virus but they have the immunity to fight it off,” she said. 

It’s why most horses are vaccinated twice a year. For young or older horses they could be vaccinated three times. 

“If they’re not vaccinated then it can be more difficult to treat,” she said. 

The health department said the last reported human case of West Nile was in 2011. 

The Mosquito Squad of the Palm Beaches can be reached at 561-744-1010. 


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