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. No touchdown, but fun lesson for Bucs' Adam Humphries


    It didn't end up being a touchdown, but one of the Bucs' biggest hustle plays in Thursday's win over Jacksonville saw receiver Adam Humphries scoop up a loose ball just before halftime, after what looked like an incompletion but was correctly ruled a Jameis Winston fumble.

    Bucs WR Adam Humphries runs to the end zone with QB Jameis Winston trailing -- his alert play wasn't a touchdown because teammates cannot advance a fumble in the final two minutes of a half.
  2. Bucs' Demar Dotson should be back from injury next week


    The Bucs got good news on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI showed only a mild right groin sprain and should be back at practice next week.

    Bucs tackle Demar Dotson, shown last year when he signed a three-year contract extension, should only miss a week of practice with his groin injury and can return healthy for the Bucs' season opener at Miami in three weeks. [Octavio Jones | Times]
  3. Comedy legend Jerry Lewis dead at 91


    LOS ANGELES — Jerry Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Dean Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons, has died. He was …

    In this Sept. 2, 1990, file photo, entertainer Jerry Lewis makes his opening remarks at the 25th Anniversary of the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon fundraiser in Los Angeles. Lewis, the comedian whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died according to his publicist. [Associated Press]
  4. Mastermind of lottery rigging scam that netted millions faces 25 years


    DES MOINES, Iowa — For a decade, computer programmer Eddie Tipton reliably showed up for work at the central Iowa office of the Multi-State Lottery Association and earned the confidence of his co-workers, a team of technicians entrusted to build computers used to randomly pick numbers for some of the most popular …

    FILE - In this June 29, 2017, file photo, Eddie Tipton, the former Multi-State Lottery Association information security director who admitted to masterminding a scheme to rig lottery games that paid him and others $2 million from seven fixed jackpots in five states, is seen in court in Des Moines, Iowa. Tipton is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday, Aug. 22. (Rodney White/The Des Moines Register via AP, File) IADES501
  5. Pasco County man killed in wrong-way crash on New Jersey Turnpike


    MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. — Authorities say a Florida man driving the wrong way on the New Jersey Turnpike was killed when his SUV crashed head-on into another vehicle.