Residents of Duval County should take special care to avoid mosquito bites as the West Nile virus was discovered in the county, local health officials say.
The Florida Department of Health in Duval County said several flocks of sentinel chickens and pools of mosquitos had tested positive for the West Nile virus.
As a result, the risk of transmission to humans has increased, although no cases have been confirmed in humans.
West Nile virus can cause a life-threatening illness that includes inflammation of the spinal cord or brain, according to the Mayo Clinic, although the majority of those infected either develop no symptoms or have mild symptoms such as a fever or headache.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 27 confirmed and probable deaths related to the West Nile virus in the United States in 2020, including one in Florida.
Duval County’s Mosquito Control and Health Departments continue their prevention and surveillance efforts.
Health officials are reminding Duval residents and visitors to take basic precautions to minimize the chance of being bitten by a mosquito:
Drain off standing water to prevent mosquitoes from multiplying.
- Drain water from trash cans, gutters, buckets, pool covers, refrigerators, toys, flower pots or any other container that has collected sprinkler or rainwater.
- Dispose of old tires, barrels, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances, and other items that are not in use.
- Empty and clean bird baths and pet water bowls at least once or twice a week.
- Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarpaulins that do not collect water.
- Keep swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.
Cover the skin with clothing or personal repellants.
- Clothing – Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long sleeves. This type of protection may be needed for people who need to work in areas where mosquitoes are present.
- Repellants – Apply mosquito repellants to bare skin and clothing.
- Always use repellants according to the label. Repellants with DEET, picaridin, lemon eucalyptus oil, para-menthane diol, 2-undecanone and IR3535 are effective.
- Use a mosquito net to protect children under 2 months of age.
Tips on using repellants
- Always read the directions on the label for approved use carefully before applying any repellant. Some repellants are not suitable for children.
- Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) are generally recommended. Other US Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellants include picaridine, lemon eucalyptus oil, para-menthane diol, 2-undecanone, or IR3535. These products are usually available from local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients listed on the product label.
- Apply insect repellant to exposed skin or clothing, but not under clothing.
- To protect children, read the directions on the label to make sure the repellant is age appropriate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mosquito repellants containing lemon eucalyptus oil or para-menthane diol should not be used in children under three years of age. DEET is not recommended for children under two months of age.
- Avoid putting repellants on children’s hands. Adults should apply the repellent to their own hands first, and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.
- If additional protection is needed, apply a permethrin protectant directly to your clothing. Again, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitos out of your home.
- Repair defective shielding on windows, doors, verandas and patios.