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West Nile virus detected in Tampa Bay

A small number of Pinellas County's sentinel chickens tested positive for West Nile virus.

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Pinellas County Mosquito Control is responding to an increase in mosquito-borne disease activity in areas of the county and is urging citizens to take basic cautions to limit exposure. 

A small number of the county's sentinel chickens have tested positive for West Nile virus, according to Pinellas County. 

The department of health said right now, there are no cases of the mosquito-borne virus in humans and it will continue its prevention efforts.

People are advised to stay indoors during the peak hours of mosquito activity at dawn and dusk when possible, use approved mosquito repellants and ensure screens and seals are intact around windows and doors. 

Sentinel chickens serve as an early-warning detection system for some mosquito-borne diseases. Mosquito Control will get alerted to the presence of diseases like West Nile virus, St. Louis Encephalitis, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and Highlands J. Virus through the chickens.

The chickens are kept at eight different places throughout the county. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call West Nile virus the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the U.S.

The CDC reports 1 in 5 people who get infected will get a fever and other symptoms. The CDC says 1 in 150 people who become infected can get seriously ill and sometimes die from it.

Mosquito Control technicians are targeting adult mosquitoes and larvae by treating with fogging trucks, aerial larvicide and ground larvicide, in addition to their ongoing treatment efforts. They will also keep monitoring the sentinel chickens and mosquitos.

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