Pasco County Mosquito Control, With Chickens

June 24, 2020

By: Deborah Childress

PASCO COUNTY – ‘Tis the season for mosquitos now that temperatures are above 80 degrees.  Breeding officially begins the first of July and continues through September.

It’s important for all of our family members, friends and neighbors that we do our mosquito housekeeping.  The number of diseases in Florida that are contracted from local residents or world travelers are numerous, including viral and parasitic diseases.  Last year, a rare Dengue Fever case was diagnosed in Hillsborough County.  This disease is typically from African regions, Central and South America and other tropical and sub-tropical regions.  It is particularly dangerous to infants, pregnant women and people previously infected.  Signs and symptoms include headache, eye, muscle and joint pain, rashes, nausea and vomiting.  Other global mosquito diseases that can be transmitted include malaria, chikungunya fever, yellow fever and Rift Valley fever.

The Pasco County Mosquito Control District has a curious way of detecting mosquito-based arboviral diseases, including West Nile, Eastern Equine, and St. Louis encephalitis illnesses and the Highlands J. virus.  Sentinel chickens are placed in cages which are distributed throughout the county.  The chickens are then blood-tested every week during mosquito season.

The Florida Health Department lists the house and yard-keeping duties that will minimize or eliminate mosquito breeding and multiplication.  Because mosquitos lay their eggs in or near water, the guidelines are all about ridding the home and yard of standing water:  Don’t allow even a bottle-cap or teaspoon measure of water to stand for more than a week, whether inside or outside.  Every week, get standing water out of roof gutters, off of pool covers, out and off of toys, buckets, pet dishes, and anything else that has been rained or sprayed on in the last seven days.  Keep flowerpots and water-holding plants, like Bromeliads, water-free.  Use air conditioning consistently in the home, and cover windows and doors.  Use of mosquito sprays is also recommended, as is wearing socks, long sleeves and pants when outdoors.

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