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'Avoid being bitten by mosquitoes': Sentinel chickens test positive for West Nile virus in Sarasota County

West Nile virus symptoms are similar to COVID-19 at first, experts say
Posted at 11:58 AM, Aug 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-05 11:58:36-04

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) announced Friday that sentinel chickens have tested positive for West Nile virus.

"The sentinel chickens that tested positive for West Nile virus were collected in unincorporated areas of Sarasota County near North Port," DOH-Sarasota said in a press release.

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Mosquito control treatments in the area, per DOH-Sarasota, have been conducted by Sarasota County Mosquito Management Services.

West Nile virus affects the central nervous system and can cause serious illness. However, about 80 percent of people who become infected with the virus will not show any symptoms.

Although no human cases of West Nile virus have been reported in the county, DOH-Sarasota is reminding residents and visitors 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, flowerpots 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, 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, 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 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.
  • Residents, visitors, and medical professionals with general questions about West Nile Virus are asked to call our Epidemiology department at (941) 861-2873.
  • For more information on what repellent is right for you, consider using the Environmental Protection Agency's search tool to help you choose skin-applied repellent products: https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you