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Chickens test positive for mosquito-borne West Nile virus in Citrus County

Health experts are warning of an increased risk of human transmission.

CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health has issued a health advisory for the mosquito-borne West Nile virus in Citrus County after several chickens tested positive for the virus.

The department said it has noticed an increase in certain parts of the county.

Several sentinel chicken flocks have tested positive, which the department says could cause an increased risk of transmission to humans. Surveillance and prevention efforts have been increased in response.

According to the CDC, most people with West Nile virus don't develop any symptoms. Some people get fevers, headaches, body aches, joint pains, rashes or diarrhea. They might also start vomiting. In more severe cases, symptoms may include neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, paralysis and even a coma.

People over the age of 60 are at a greater risk of developing complications.

While there are no specific vaccines or treatments, pain relievers can help -- as can supportive treatments at hospitals, where patients may be given fluids and special nursing care.

The department offers the following advice to stop mosquitoes from multiplying:

  • Drain excess waters in containers such as garbage cans and buckets
  • Get rid of old tires or other things not being used 
  • Empty birdbaths and water bowls for pets at least once or twice a week
  • Protect and cover boats and vehicles from rain with tarps which don't keep water
  • Keep swimming pools in good condition with the right amount of chlorine and empty when not in use.

How to protect yourself from mosquitoes:

  • Wear long-sleeve and protective clothing when outside around areas of mosquitoes
  • Use mosquito repellent on skin and clothing as needed
  • Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes from going inside your home

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