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More Lee County chickens are turning up with West Nile virus, and health officials are warning about the potentially fatal disease.
It’s part of the annual cycle: Summer rains mean more mosquitos, including the Culex variety that carries West Nile, which is most prevalent in August and September.
The good news: no human cases have yet been reported, according to Florida Department of Health’s Lee County office, but now’s the time to be extra careful. If the disease appears in the sentinel chicken flocks stationed throughout the county, it could make the jump to human populations.
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So far in Collier County, there are no reports of West Nile.
“(The) Collier County Mosquito Control District gathers and tests mosquitoes weekly from throughout the 401-square-mile district, and as of today there are no positives for any of the diseases (e.g, West Nile, dengue, etc.), which is very good news,” spokeswoman Robin King wrote in an email.
“Here in Collier, we are closely monitoring the status of the locally transmitted dengue occurring in Miami-Dade (which means mosquitoes there are transmitting the disease).”
In addition to West Nile, the insects can also transmit a host of other diseases, including Zika, malaria, yellow fever and dengue.
Though there’s a protective West Nile vaccine for horses, there’s not one for dogs, cats or humans. The best strategy is what the department calls “drain and cover,” basically means making standing water unavailable to egg-laying female mosquitoes.
About 80 percent of people infected with the virus don’t ever feel sick, but when the disease does develop, it can range from a minor-but-annoying flu-like fever to meningitis and death. You can’t get the disease through coughing, sneezing, or touching, according to the CDC, nor is it transmitted by live or dead infected birds.
To reduce your chances of getting mosquito-borne disease:
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#searchform.
Dead birds can be reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: http://legacy.myfwc.com/bird/default.asp.
–Source: Florida Department of Health, The News-Press archives
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