PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. —
The Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County has issued an advisory after reports “there has been an increase in mosquito-borne disease activity in the western areas of Palm Beach County,” including western Boca Raton, Jupiter Farms, Belle Glade, and Wellington.
The department made it clear that this is a precautionary measure, and there is “no indication anyone has gotten sick from this at this time.”
The advisory comes after seven chickens in the county’s sentinel chicken flock tested positive for flavivirus infections, which indicates the risk of transmission to humans has increased. Thirty-eight total chickens across the county are tested for mosquito-borne disease every two weeks.
County leaders said the testing of the chickens will be increased to once per week until the virus is no longer present in the chickens.
Palm Beach County Health Department leaders have not identified the type of flavivirus present in the chickens, but they said it could be West Nile Virus or St. Louis Encephalitis. Both of those diseases can be fatal and include symptoms like fever and dizziness.
Some people in affected areas said they find this advisory alarming.
“It makes you not want to walk outside. If you get bit by something you don’t expect, ‘Oh, I’m going to get all these things wrong with me,’ so it kind of makes you scared to walk around outside and be around the mosquitoes,” said Jupiter Farms resident Alyssa Crocker.
Palm Beach County Mosquito Control leaders said people should take precautions, but that county staff members are doing their best to resolve the issue.
“We’re getting ahead of it early. We’ve detected it as soon as we came up. We’ve already done some treatment,” said Palm Beach County Mosquito Control environmental analyst Steven Fazekas. “We are going to look at the areas it was in and go out and do some treatments in those areas where we know that it is present.”
He also said the county began aerial treatments in certain areas earlier this month after reports of increases in the mosquito population.
The Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County released tips for protecting you and your family from mosquitoes:
- Drain the water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rainwater 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 and keep them appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.
- Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.
- Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.
- Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house.
- Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios.
Tips for bug repellents include:
- 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, 2-Undecanone and IR3535 are effective.
- 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% 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, 2-Undecanone 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 or para-menthane-diol should not be used on children under the age of three years. DEET is not recommended for 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.
- For more information on what repellent is right for you, click here.