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'Sentinel chicken' in Pinellas County tests positive for Eastern equine encephalitis

Public health officials in Pinellas County said a "sentinel chicken" tested positive Tuesday for mosquito-borne Eastern equine encephalitis.

The chicken was one of several kept at Sawgrass Lake Park to serve as an early-warning detection system. Officials rely on chickens there and at seven other locations in the county to alert them when mosquitoes carrying diseases are in the area.

Officials said recent rains have caused an increase in Pinellas County's mosquito population.

Mosquito Control technicians routinely treat known breeding areas by ground and air, officials said, and are available to respond to requests from residents.

Officials advised residents to empty water from old tires, flowerpots, garbage can lids, recycling containers, boat tarps and buckets. Eliminate standing water near plumbing drains, air conditioner drips, septic tanks or rain gutters.

Officials said residents should flush areas that collect standing water, like birdbaths, wading pools, plants and pet dishes, weekly. Pools should be chlorinated, door and window screens should be checked for tears and gutters should be cleared of debris.

Eastern equine encephalitis is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. It's rare in humans, and most people infected show no apparent illness. But the virus can cause headache, fever, chills and vomiting that could lead to disorientation, seizures or a coma.

'Sentinel chicken' in Pinellas County tests positive for Eastern equine encephalitis 01/16/14 [Last modified: Friday, January 17, 2014 10:21am]
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