Dangerous mosquito-borne virus detected in Florida, raising some concerns on the Suncoast

Eastern Equine Encephalitis Concerns

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - Not only are mosquitoes a nuisance, they can be deadly.

A mosquito-borne virus known as Eastern Equine Encephalitis is hitting closer to home. It’s been detected in many sentinel chickens in Orange County, increasing the risk to humans. It’s a virus that can cause brain swelling in humans and death, and it’s known to affect horses.

“It is pretty scary,” said Camille Sarppraicone, Owner of Splendid Bay Farms. “People need to vaccinate their horses correctly, their vets need to come out to make sure that everything is okay, and try to keep your barn as clean as possible."

Sarppraicone also uses bats to control the mosquito population. What also helps in a big way is Manatee County Mosquito Control spraying safe pesticides from up above and on the ground. They say even though this virus is in Florida, people on the Suncoast should be aware but not too concerned.

“The mosquitoes that transmits this disease is primarily a fresh water swamp mosquito that breeds in red maple swamps and cypress swamps and those are just not the type of habitats we have in this area,” said Chris Lesser, Assistant Director with Manatee County Mosquito Control District.

Mosquito control has sentinel chickens on their property and they are tested frequently. So far there hasn’t been any sign of this virus here. There are things you can do to protect yourself from all kinds of mosquito-borne viruses.

“Try to limit your outdoor activity to just daytime hours when there’s less mosquito activity, if you have to go outside at dusk or in the evening try to protect yourself with long sleeves, you can wear Deet,” said Lesser.

Manatee County’s Mosquito Control District says they will continue to test the chickens every week for any mosquito-borne viruses.

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