The Florida Department of Health in Duval County (DOH-Duval) announced Thursday morning that there has been an increase in mosquito-borne disease activity in the area.
Several sentinel chicken flocks have tested positive for West Nile virus infection, and now DOH officials are warning residents that the risk of transmission to humans is on the rise.
Aja Arrindell, Surveillance Epidemiologist for DOH-Duval, saud the best way to prevent the disease from spreading is for residents to take personal responsibility. That means drain and cover. “We need to take personal protective measures which include elimination of local mosquito breeding sites, meaning draining and removal of receptacles for standing water.” She went on to recommend that residents “limit outdoor activity during times of high mosquito activity, which is primarily dusk to dawn.” And finally, she recommends protecting your skin, whether that’s with clothing or an EPA registered repellent.
But it’s not all on residents. Entomologist Marah Clark, who works for the City of Jacksonville’s Mosquito Control Division, said local government agencies are doing their part as well. “We’ve been very proactive, thankfully, because of this early warning. We’ve been applying the appropriate treatments to bring these mosquitoes under control.”
The Department of Health says it will continue to conduct statewide surveillance. They’re looking for instances of mosquito borne illnesses including West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, malaria, chikungunya, and dengue. Anyone in Florida who spots a dead bird should report it to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website.
DOH-Duval provided the following tips to help prevent the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses:
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 rain water 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.
For more information on repellants can be found at EPA.gov.
More information about Mosquito-borne, and other insect-borne diseases is available at Florida.Health.gov.