Health officials issue St Johns County mosquito-borne illnesses advisory

Earlier today, Noreen Nickola-Williams, Director of the Office of Public Health Practice and Policy for the Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County, alerted Historic City News to an increase in mosquito-borne disease in St Johns County.

In St Johns County, sentinel chickens are used to detect some mosquito-borne illnesses.  During recent routine surveillance assessments, an increase in activity for both West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) was recorded.

“It is important that although there are no known human cases of WNV or EEE confirmed at this time, the potential for the transmission of these diseases to humans has increased,” Nickola-Williams told local reporters.  “The Florida Department of Health continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile virus infections, Eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, malaria, chikungunya and dengue.”

The Florida Department of Health – St Johns County Health Department, in partnership with the Anastasia Mosquito Control District, continues surveillance and prevention efforts. Residents and visitors are reminded to take basic precautions to help limit exposure and chances of being bitten by mosquitoes. 

DRAIN standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying.

  • Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
  • Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that are not in use.
  • Empty and clean birdbaths and pet’s water bowls at least once or twice a week.
  • Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.
  • Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.

COVER skin with clothing or repellent.

  • Clothing – Wear shoes, socks, and long pants and long-sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.
  • Repellent – Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.
  • Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house.  Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios.

Tips on Repellent Use:

Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before you apply a repellent.  Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, and IR3535 are effective.  To find the right mosquito-repellent for your individual needs, please consider using the Environmental Protection Agency search tool to help you choose approved skin-applied repellent products.

Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) are generally recommended. Other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellents contain picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or IR3535. These products are generally available at local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label.

Some repellents are not suitable for children.  Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.  In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age appropriate.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of three years old. DEET is not recommended on children younger than two months old.  Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children. Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.

Apply insect repellent to exposed skin, or onto clothing, but not under clothing.  If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing.  Again, always follow the manufacturer’s directions.