MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – A sentinel chicken used by the Mobile County Health Department tested positive for West Nile Virus on Wednesday.
Used to detect mosquito-borne diseases in the community, the sentinel chicken was located in the 36544 zip code in south Mobile County.
West Nile virus is a form of mosquito-borne encephalitis. It was confirmed by laboratory results, according to Dr. Bernard Eichold, Health Officer for the Mobile County.
“The public should assume that there are mosquitoes carrying the disease throughout Mobile,” Eichold said. “Don’t let your guard down.” The risk of encephalitis spread by mosquitoes is highest from August through the first freeze in the fall, he said.
Health officials warned that it’s extremely important for people taking part in outdoor activities to take every effort in reducing their exposure to mosquitoes. They recommend using insect repellent frequently while outdoors, particularly when mosquito activity peaks at dusk and again at dawn.
West Nile virus is 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 human or a horse.
Although humans and horses can become ill from the infection, the diseases cannot be spread from people or horses.