Two sentinel chickens in Seminole have tested positive for St. Louis encephalitis.
The Pinellas County Mosquito Control issued a public health advisory on Thursday asking residents to be viligent in their use of mosquito-repellent outdoors and to eliminate standing water around their homes that could become breeding grounds.
The infected chickens were housed at Walsingham Park in Seminole and Cross Bayou in unincorporated Seminole area.
Mosquito Control technicians are treating known breeding areas by ground and by air, as well as responding to requests from residents. Additional fogging is ongoing in these areas.
St. Louis encephalitis differs from chikungunya, which is not detected in sentinel chickens but which is also transmitted by mosquitoes. There have been three confirmed cases of chikungunya in Pinellas County this year, all of which were contracted by people who had traveled to the Caribbean.
The onset of St. Louis encephalitis is usually abrupt, with symptoms that include fever, headache, dizziness, nausea, and malaise, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms typically intensify over a period of several days to a week, with some patients recovering afterward. Others develop signs of central nervous system infections, including stiff neck, confusion, disorientation, dizziness, tremors and unsteadiness. In severe cases, coma can develop. Older adults are more at risk of a serious case than children.
Tips from Mosquito Control:
• 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.
• Flush birdbaths and wading pools weekly. Flush bromeliads twice weekly or treat with a biological larvicide.
• Change the water in outdoor pet dishes daily.
• Keep pools adequately chlorinated.
• Stock ornamental ponds with mosquito-eating gambusia fish.
• Cover rain barrels with fine mesh screening.
• Repair rips or tears in door and window screens.
For more information on controlling mosquitoes or submitting a mosquito control request to the county, go to www.pinellascounty.org/mosquito or call (727) 464-7503.