MCHD: Eastern Equine Encephalitis confirmed in sentinel chickens


MOBILE, Ala. — Two sentinel chickens in the 36582 ZIP code of Mobile County have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, according to the Mobile County Health Department.

The Mobile County Health Department’s Vector Control division monitors encephalitis in sentinel poultry flocks strategically placed throughout the county to detect the presence of viruses carried by mosquitoes. Traps are located in predetermined locations throughout the county and tested for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, and St. Louis Encephalitis.Aggressive surveillance and control activities are ongoing by MCHD staff.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis and other mosquito-borne viruses such as West Nile Virus are transmitted from bird to mosquito to bird. Mosquitoes can spread these viruses by feeding on the blood of infected birds and then biting another host animal or mammal such as a horse or human. Although humans and horses can become ill from the infection, the diseases cannot be spread from people or horses. The likelihood of transmission to humans and horses can be decreased by personal mosquito avoidance and the use of an Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus vaccine in horses. There is no vaccine available for humans.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis can be more dangerous to people and other mammals than other mosquito-borne viruses. However the same mosquito-prevention measures reduce exposures to all such viruses. Bites to children should be watched for secondary infections that need to be treated by a physician. Mosquito bites can be treated with topical agents such as calamine and menthol lotions. Cortisone creams and oral antihistamines are available as over-the-counter medications that can reduce itching.

The most effective and economical method to quell the adult mosquito population is to reduce breeding sites with larviciding treatments. Inspectors regularly check areas with standing water for mosquito breeding and treat as needed using both portable and truck mounted equipment. The inspectors also respond to service requests from residents to inspect backyard areas as well as to treat identified breeding areas and to provide education. Because of large volumes of calls received daily, service requests are responded to on a first-call, first-served basis and may take a few days to be addressed, health officials said.

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