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Six more sentinel chickens test positive for West Nile virus in Pinellas County

Six more sentinel chickens in Pinellas County have tested positive for West Nile virus, bringing the tally to 12 chickens this year, according to the county.

Last year at this time, while no positive tests for West Nile virus were recorded, the county had more than a dozen cases of encephalitis and chikungunya detected in sentinel chickens, spokeswoman Mary Burrell said.

"It's a different virus, but it's really not that great of a difference," she said. "We have a lot of rain every summer, and this is always a problem."

In July, three chickens in Tarpon Springs, St. Petersburg and Oldsmar alerted the county that the mosquito-borne disease was present in the area. About a month later, three more chickens in Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Seminole tested positive.

On Wednesday, six more chickens tested positive: three at an Oldsmar sewage treatment plant, two at a Seminole park and one in Palm Harbor.

The chickens, spread across eight county locations, work as an early detection system for some mosquito-borne diseases. They're tested weekly.

After July's heavy rains, mosquito control technicians have ramped up fogging and treatment efforts in known breeding zones and the areas where the positive chickens were housed.

Residents should rid their properties of standing water, where mosquitoes can breed in as little as one quarter inch of water.