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Mosquito-Borne Encephalitis May Be On the Rise in Flagler, Health Department Cautions

| August 24, 2010

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bug off.

The Health Department is cautioning that there’s been increased mosquito-borne disease activity in areas of Flagler County. Several of the department’s “sentinel” chicken flocks have tested positive for EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) virus. The risk of transmission to humans has been increased.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Eastern equine encephalitis is rare in humans, and only a few cases are reported in the United States each year. Most cases occur in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states. Most persons infected with EEEV have no apparent illness. Severe cases of EEE (involving encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain) begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, or coma.

The Health Department urges anyone with these symptoms to consult their primary care physician or seek immediate medical care. Physicians should contact the Flagler County Health Department if they suspect an individual may have a mosquito-borne illness. Florida Department of Health laboratories provide testing services for physicians treating patients with clinical signs of mosquito-borne disease

EEE is one of the most severe mosquito-transmitted diseases in the United States with approximately 33% mortality and significant brain damage in most survivors. There is no specific treatment for EEE; care is based on symptoms. You can reduce your risk of being infected with EEEV by using insect repellent, wearing protective clothing, and staying indoors while mosquitoes are most active. If you think you or a family member may have EEE, it is important to consult your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis.

The Flagler County Health Department reminds residents and visitors to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. East Flagler Mosquito Control and the Health Department continue surveillance and prevention efforts and encourage everyone to take basic precautions to help limit exposure by following the department of health recommendations.

To protect yourself from mosquitoes, you should remember to practice the “5 D’s”:
• Dusk and Dawn – Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are seeking blood.
• Dress – Wear clothing that covers most of your skin.
• DEET – When the potential exists for exposure to mosquitoes, repellents containing up to 30 percent DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) are recommended. Other effective mosquito repellents include picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535.
• Drainage – Check around your home to rid the area of standing water, where mosquitoes lay eggs.

Some effective repellants are DEET (N, N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide), picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535. Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before you apply a repellant. Some repellents are not suitable for children.

Tips on Eliminating Mosquito Breeding Sites:

• Clean out eaves, troughs and gutters.
• Remove old tires or drill holes in those used in playgrounds to drain.
• Turn over or remove empty plastic pots.
• Pick up all beverage containers and cups.
• Check tarps on boats or other equipment that may collect water.
• Pump out bilges on boats.
• Replace water in birdbaths and pet or other animal feeding dishes at least once a week.
• Change water in plant trays, including hanging plants, at least once a week.
• Remove vegetation or obstructions in drainage ditches that prevent the flow of water.

The health department continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito borne illnesses, including West Nile virus infections, Eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, malaria, and dengue. Residents of Florida are encouraged to report dead birds via the web site. For more information on mosquito-borne illnesses, visit DOH’s Environmental Health web site or call your local county health department at (386) 437-7358.

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