Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Louis encephalitis virus found in Pinellas County sentinel chickens

It's back.

For the first time in six years, St. Louis encephalitis has shown up in Pinellas County.

The mosquito-transmitted disease that attacks the central nervous system disappeared in Pinellas when West Nile virus came to town in 2005.

But Tuesday, county officials announced they had confirmed St. Louis encephalitis in four sentinel chickens. The chickens are kept in eight locations in the county and tested weekly to detect the presence of mosquitoes carrying diseases.

Two chickens in Walsingham Park in Largo and two chickens at the North Highway Maintenance Yard in Clearwater tested positive.

In rare cases, the disease can be fatal, county officials said. But the message to residents Tuesday was clear: don't panic.

"It's not something they need to be fearful of, just take extra precautions if they're going to be outdoors to protect themselves from mosquito bites," said Nancy Iannotti, director of Pinellas Mosquito Control.

There have been no cases reported in humans. The last reported death from the disease was in the Florida Panhandle in 2002.

And most people who get infected have mild symptoms, or none at all. Symptoms are similar to the flu, said Pinellas County Health Department spokeswoman Maggie Hall.

Hall suggested residents can protect themselves by wearing mosquito repellent containing DEET (or using mosquito netting for infants who can't wear DEET repellents). And residents should be vigilant about draining standing water and discarding items like old tires that can be breeding grounds.

The Pinellas mosquito population has increased following recent rains. Mosquito Control technicians have been spraying and fogging known breeding areas and have stepped up in areas where the virus was detected, Iannotti said.

The department emerged relatively unscathed during the ongoing budget crisis, losing only $30,000 in funding over the past three years, which means it has the staff and materials needed, she said.

>>TO learn more

Reducing the risk

For more information on mosquito control within Pinellas, visit the county's website at

A video on the topic can be found at Click on "Mosquito Prevention."

St. Louis encephalitis virus found in Pinellas County sentinel chickens 08/30/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 7:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning edges Red Wings on road

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — The digs were different, the Lightning seeing the masterfully-done new Little Caesar's Arena for the first time.

    Lightning center/Red Wings’ killer Tyler Johnson gets past defenseman Trevor Daley on his way to the first goal of the game.
  2. Armwood pulls away to defeat Plant 27-7, remain undefeated


    SEFFNER — First-year Armwood coach Evan Davis pulled out all the stops to get his team psyched for Monday's annual grudge match against Plant.

    Armwood defensive end Malcolm Lamar (97) gets fired up before the start of the game between Plant High School Panthers and the Armwood High School Hawks in Suffer, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
  3. Clearwater police: Car thief dead after owner fires gun


    CLEARWATER — One man is dead after the owner of a car fired shots at the thieves who were stealing it Monday night, police said.

  4. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive


    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  5. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.