According to Gary Detman at CBS 12, as of October 17th, West Nile Virus has been detected in the western part of Palm Beach County. Over 60 sub-species of mosquitoes that like to lay their eggs in stagnant water can carry West Nile Virus. Because mosquitoes thrive in Florida’s tropical climate, the Florida Health Department uses sentinel chickens as an early warning system for diseases. These chickens play an essential role in detecting mosquito-borne diseases in Florida. Blood samples are extracted weekly from flocks of sentinel chickens placed strategically around Florida counties and tested for the presence of antibodies to West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine encephalitis, and St. Louis encephalitis.
West Nile Virus
A flavivirus, this genus also includes dengue fever, tick-borne encephalitis virus, yellow fever virus, Zika virus, and several other viruses which may cause encephalitis. Named from the yellow fever virus, most of these viruses are transmitted from an infected arthropod, mosquito, or tick and so are classified as arboviruses. FloridaHealth.gov says that first identified in Uganda in 1937, West Nile Virus was introduced to the US by way of New York in 1999 and by 2001, it had reached Florida. Now considered endemic to the US mainland, West Nile Virus has been identified in all US states except Alaska and Hawaii. Annual epidemics of West Nile Virus are not uncommon in some parts of the country during the summer.
Fortunately, West Nile Virus only affects 1 in 5 people
Most people infected with West Nile Virus, around 80%, show no symptoms; however, some do develop mild flu-like symptoms, with fever, nausea, headaches, and fatigue, along with body aches and pains. Less than 1% of people with West Nile Virus develop the most severe form of the disease, neuro invasive West Nile Virus that can involve meningitis and encephalitis, escalating into irreversible neurological damage, paralysis, coma, and death, according to FloridaHealth.gov. Because no vaccine has been developed to combat West Nile Virus, “We are constantly monitoring for mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile Virus,” said Health Department Director, Dr. Alina Alonso. She added, “With these continued confirmations from the state lab of the presence of West Nile Virus, it is a good reminder for all to take the necessary preventative measures.”
How can you reduce mosquito populations?
Here are some tips you may want to review for protecting yourself and your family from mosquitoes:
The necessary measures include applying insect repellent
With confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in Belle Glade, Pahokee, and Jupiter Farms in western Palm Beach County, health officials recommend that residents in South Florida apply insect repellent with DEET. Recently, DEET has been used extensively to protect against other mosquito and tick-borne illnesses, such as equine encephalitis and Lyme disease. While DEET has been protecting people from gnats, ticks, mites, and other bloodsucking arthropods since 1973, concerns about the adverse effects of DEET on the nervous system has driven some people to seek other mosquito repellents. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites (EPA)-registered insect repellents that have been proven safe, “even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.” Surprising to some, these include DEET, as well as the following:
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
- Para-methane-diol (PMD)
These insect repellents should be used according to the manufacturer’s directions. When using DEET, officials say, “less is more.”
Wear appropriate clothing
In order to minimize the use of DEET and other repellents, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed toe shoes when hiking or walking in wooded areas.
Think about the time of day
Mosquitoes tend to show up early in the morning or at dusk to feed on unsuspecting hosts. Plan outdoor activities at other times when mosquitoes aren’t as active. Steering clear of the woods at dusk or dawn can help avoid mosquito bites.
Eliminate standing water
The best ways to discourage mosquitoes breeding in your backyard? Get rid of objects that can trap water. Store kids’ toys, extra planters, and empty plant containers in a shed or storage building. Drill holes in recycling containers to allow water to drain out. Removing clutter and debris in your yard can help eliminate areas where water can collect. Changing the water in pet bowls and birdbaths every other day can reduce the odds that mosquitoes will breed in your yard. Ensuring that downspouts are draining properly, away from your house, in addition to correcting any water-prone areas in your yard helps keep mosquitoes from moving in close to a food source – you, your family, and your pets.
Screens and doors
Repair or replace torn screens in doors and windows around your home. You can use mosquito-netting to keep mosquitoes out of strollers and baby carriages.
Contact a professional
In May, the CDC’s report indicated that vector-borne diseases are on the rise in the US due to global travel and a warming planet. If you suspect mosquitoes might be breeding in your backyard, contact a trusted pest control professional, such as Hulett Environmental Services to inspect your property.
Our technicians address potential mosquito breeding areas, treating them with a residual product, and applying a sticking agent to the places mosquitoes tend to rest during the day. Additionally, we treat all doorways and windows with a microencapsulated product that creates a mosquito barrier around your home. Take back your backyard from mosquitoes.
Contact us to schedule a free mosquito inspection. Just call Hulett!