The Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County put residents on alert Thursday after the West Nile Virus was found in Jupiter Farms., a community west of Florida’s Turnpike, off Indiantown Road.
The mosquito-borne disease, which can cause symptoms including headache, fever, pain, and fatigue, was detected in blood samples of sentinel chickens, birds that get their blood tested regularly to determine if people are at risk of contracting the virus.
The department said it “strategically” placed chickens from Delray Beach to Jupiter and west in Belle Glade and Pahokee because they don’t contract the disease but can be a carrier.
The discovery prompted the department to warn residents to “take the necessary precautions to avoid mosquito bites.”
“We are constantly monitoring for mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile Virus, Chikungunya, and St. Louis Encephalitis,” Department of Health Palm Beach County Director Dr. Alina Alonso said in a news release. “Today’s confirmation of the presence of West Nile Virus is a good reminder for all to take the necessary preventive measures.”
Among the precautions, according to the health department:
▪ Drain any standing water from around the home or business to avoid a place that mosquitoes can leave their eggs.
▪ Screen windows and doors and use air conditioning when possible.
▪ Always use insect repellent that contains DEET or Picardin, when going outside.
▪ Wear lightweight long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks especially at dusk and dawn.
In recent years, the Zika virus has been the most prominent mosquito-borne disease, the Department of Health said.