VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - A case of West Nile virus infection has been confirmed in Volusia County, according to the Florida Department of Health .
None of the county’s sentinel chickens have tested positive for antibodies to the virus; however, the case increases the concern for transmission to humans, health officials said.
Sentinel chickens are used to detect some mosquito-borne illnesses, such as West Nile virus. The birds do not develop disease symptoms but will test positive for antibodies if infected.
"We can't disclose where (the infected person) lives or anything, but what I can tell you is that they did not travel anywhere outside the country in the two weeks prior to when the infection started," Volusia County Department of Health spokesman Paul Rehme said.
The most recent West Nile infection is the first Volusia County has seen since the summer of 2015, Rehme said.
A warmer-than-usual winter could be affecting mosquito populations, and as a result, the prevalence of West Nile virus has increased as well, Rehme said.
"It's hard to say," he said. "Statewide, it's been a good, slow year for West Nile virus, because we've only had, until now, three cases statewide. Typically, we might get a dozen or so a year."
Volusia County Mosquito Control and the Health Department are working on prevention efforts.
Officials ask that residents take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
Facts You Didn't Know About Mosquitoes
Here are some preventative measures recommended by the Health Department:
- 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 pets' 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.
- Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios.
Cover skin with clothing or repellent
- Clothing - Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long-sleeved tops. 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, mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of 3 years. DEET is not recommended on children younger than 2 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.