Water-Related News

Four “sentinel chickens” in Pinellas test positive for West Nile virus

Pinellas County Mosquito Control confirmed positive tests for West Nile virus in four sentinel chickens on Tuesday, Aug. 25. One chicken was located at the North Highway Maintenance Yard in Palm Harbor, one at the Keller Water Treatment Facility in Tarpon Springs, one at the Clearwater Nursery and one at Sawgrass Lake Park in St. Petersburg.  

With these confirmed positive tests, 23 sentinel chickens have now tested positive for West Nile virus in Pinellas County this year. The other positive tests were confirmed in July in chickens in Tarpon Springs, St. Petersburg and Oldsmar and in August in Clearwater, Oldsmar, Palm Harbor, Tarpon Springs, St. Petersburg and Seminole.

Mosquito Control technicians continue to aggressively treat known breeding areas by ground and by air, and are responding to requests from residents. Additional fogging and treatment efforts are ongoing in the areas where the positive sentinel chickens were located.

Sentinel chickens serve as an early-warning detection system for some mosquito-borne diseases and can signal the fact that mosquitoes carrying the diseases are present in the area. There are eight locations in the county where chickens are kept and tested weekly.

The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County continues to monitor sentinel chicken trends.

Residents are urged to be diligent in ridding their properties of standing water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Mosquitoes can breed in as little as one quarter inch of standing water, so the following precautions are advised:

•    Empty water from old tires, flower pots, garbage can lids, recycling containers, boat tarps and buckets
•    Eliminate standing water near plumbing drains, air conditioner drips, septic tanks or rain gutters
•    Flush birdbaths and wading pools weekly
•    Flush bromeliads twice weekly or treat with a biological larvicide
•    Change the water in outdoor pet dishes daily
•    Keep pools adequately chlorinated
•    Stock ornamental ponds with mosquito-eating gambusia fish
•    Cover rain barrels with fine mesh screening
•    Repair rips or tears in door and window screens

In addition, the Florida Department of Health advises residents to follow “Drain and Cover” preventative measures by draining standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying as well as covering skin with clothing and using mosquito repellent.

Visit mosquito control to request treatment and find additional information about stopping mosquitoes. Residents can also call Pinellas County Mosquito Control at (727) 464-7503.