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DOH Nassau - Health Officials Continue to Emphasize Precautionary Measures to Prevent Mosquito-Borne Illness

By Ronnie Nessler

August 16, 2018

Nassau County, Fla. - The Florida Department of Health in Nassau County (DOH-Nassau) advises residents that mosquito-borne disease activity is ongoing and continues to be detected in surveillance systems in Nassau County.

Throughout the year, DOH-Nassau partners with the Nassau County Volunteer Fire Department, Nassau County Commissioners and Amelia Island Mosquito Control District to maintain sentinel chicken flocks in the eastern, western, and middle sections of the county, to monitor for West Nile virus, and other similar mosquito borne illnesses, called arboviruses. These chickens are regularly tested for four arboviruses that can affect humans and animals: Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV), West Nile virus (WNV), Highlands J virus (HJV), and St. Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV).

Most human infections with EEEV, WNV, and SLEV are asymptomatic or may result in a nonspecific flu-like syndrome with fever and headache. Infection may, however, lead to encephalitis, with a fatal outcome or permanent neurologic sequelae. Fortunately, only a small proportion of infected people progress to having encephalitis. Exposure to HJV has not been associated with human illnesses.

So far in 2018, there have been four cases of EEEV infection in horses in Nassau County and one outbreak of EEEV reported in emus. Ten sentinel chickens have tested positive for EEEV in Nassau County this year, one has tested positive for HJV, and 17 have tested positive for WNV. There has been an increase in sentinel chicken WNV activity throughout the county in recent weeks, coinciding with the peak period of WNV transmission in Florida from July through September.

DOH-Nassau urges residents and visitors to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and to take precautions to help limit exposure.

To protect yourself from mosquitoes, you should remember to “Drain and Cover”:

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 what repellent is right for you, consider using the Environmental Protection Agency’s search tool to help you choose skin-applied repellent products:
http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/#searchform.

The Department continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile virus infections, Eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, malaria, chikungunya and dengue. Residents of Florida are encouraged to report dead birds via the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s site - http://legacy.myfwc.com/bird/default.asp.

For more information, visit DOH’s website at http://www.floridahealth.gov/%5C/diseases-and-conditions/mosquito-borne-diseases/index.html or contact your county health department.

About the Florida Department of Health

The department works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

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