ALACHUA COUNTY, FL - The Alachua County Health Department (ACHD) emphasizes the importance of protection against mosquito-borne diseases. The advent of warmer weather and recent rainfall has increased the numbers and activity level for mosquitoes. These conditions have raised the potential for the transmission of mosquito borne diseases such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus.
Alachua County's surveillance system, comprised of sentinel chickens, surface water larvae counts, light traps, dead bird reports, citizen complaints, and signals from the medical and veterinary community, have detected the presence of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in the County. "Within the past week, a horse and a chicken have been confirmed as being infected with the virus," said Paul Myers, Assistant Alachua County Health Department Director. "We urge all citizens to take steps to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes."
Symptoms of West Nile virus (WNV) infection and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) may include headache, fever, fatigue, dizziness, weakness, and confusion. Physicians should contact the local county health department if they suspect an individual may have a mosquito-borne illness. State of Florida Department of Health laboratories provide testing services for physicians treating patients with clinical signs of mosquito-borne diseases.
The ACHD advises citizens to protect themselves from mosquito bites by following the "5 D's":
- Drainage - Rid the area around your home of standing water, which is where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.
- DEET - Repellents containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, or N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) are recommended to protect against mosquito exposure. Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus are other repellent options. Always use repellants according to the manufacturer's directions.
- Dress - Wear clothing that covers most of your skin.
- Dusk and Dawn - Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active.
Monitoring wild bird deaths can help officials track the spread of some mosquito-borne diseases. Anyone who discovers a dead bird is encouraged to report it via the Internet. The bird mortality reporting system is located on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's website at: www.MyFWC.com/bird/. Citizens may also report dead birds to a county health department or local FWC office.
For more information, contact Paul Myers, Alachua County Health Department, at 352-334-8892.