West Nile Virus detected throughout Mobile County

In Health

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The Mobile County Health Department has detected signs of potentially deadly West Nile Virus for the first time in 2018, it reported Thursday.

Traces of the virus were found in seven of the MCHD’s sentinel chickens. “This is a higher number than normal,” said Dr. Bernard H. Eichold II, the county health officer. “Don’t let your guard down.”

The chickens, stationed throughout the county, are exposed to diseases through mosquito bites. They provide a way of checking for the spread of some diseases, such as West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, but not others, such as the Zika virus.

The chickens that tested positive were in the area codes 36522 (Citronelle), 36544 (Irvington), 36571 (Saraland), 36582 (Theodore), 36603 (north and south of downtown Mobile), 36605 (Dauphin Island Parkway and surroundings) and 36610 (Prichard).

“The public should assume that there are mosquitoes carrying the disease throughout Mobile County,” said Eichold.

Jerry Folse, the director of MCHD’s Vector Services, said his department will increase spraying and conduct door-to-door surveys in the affected areas. Inspectors will also attempt to trap adult mosquitoes and test them for the presence of West Nile.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, most people infected with West Nile experience no adverse effects, with 1 in 5 developing a fever and other side effects. About 1 in 150 develop serious or deadly illness such as encephalitis or meningitis as a result. The best way to prevent infection is to prevent mosquito bites. Full information can be found at www.cdc.gov.

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