Recent West Nile detection in Mosquito Control Section’s sentinel chickens shows need for continued vigilance
DOVER – The detection this week of West Nile virus (WNV) in sentinel chickens monitored for mosquito-borne diseases by DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section serves notice to Delawareans that mosquitoes remain very active, especially during unseasonably warm weather the state is now experiencing, and that precautions should continue to be taken against mosquito bites that could transmit WNV.
“Concerns about mosquito-borne diseases could continue for several more weeks, with the peak period for transmission lasting into mid-October,” said Dr. William Meredith, Mosquito Control Section Administrator within the Division of Fish & Wildlife. “The possibility of mosquito-borne disease transmissions won’t subside until colder autumn temperatures set in.”
Delaware’s Division of Public Health Laboratory reported seven WNV-positive chickens from five of the Mosquito Control Section’s 20 monitoring stations throughout the state – four in New Castle County and one in Sussex County. Since late July, a total of 19 sentinel chickens have tested WNV-positive this year: 13 from New Castle County, five from Kent County, and one positive from Sussex County. Past north-to-south trends indicate Delaware could see a possible increase in WNV-positive findings in downstate sentinel chickens in the coming weeks. Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), another mosquito-borne disease affecting both people and horses, was also found at a sentinel chicken station in southwestern New Castle County in late July. No human cases of WNV or EEE have been reported this year in Delaware.
The recent WNV findings in sentinel chickens prompted the Mosquito Control Section to increase mosquito population surveillance in areas surrounding the stations where the chickens tested positive, to take control actions including aerial spraying and residential fogging. In addition, the section encourages residents to use repellent containing DEET, to wear long sleeves and long pants outdoors, and avoid mosquito-infested areas or being outside during times of peak mosquito activity.
To reduce mosquito-breeding habitat, the Mosquito Control Section advises residents to drain or remove items that collect water, such as discarded buckets or containers, uncovered trash cans, stagnant birdbaths, unprotected rain barrels or cisterns, old tires, upright wheelbarrows, flowerpot liners, depressions in tarps covering boats, clogged rain gutters, corrugated downspout extenders, and unused swimming pools.
Mosquito Control also encourages residents to report intolerable numbers of biting mosquitoes by calling the numbers below. Staff answers phones between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Callers after business hours or during weekends or holidays should leave their name, phone number, address and a brief message.
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Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs Office, 302-739-9902
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