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Alachua County Health Officials Issue Mosquito-Borne Illnesses Advisory

Press release from Alachua County

This press release is published at the request of the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County

The Florida Department of Health in Alachua County (DOH-Alachua) advises residents there has been an increase in mosquito-borne disease activity in Alachua County.

“Two chickens in our sentinel chicken flock have tested positive for West Nile Virus, and increased mosquito populations have been reported in the southwest part of Alachua County,” said Anthony Dennis, Environmental Health Director, Florida Department of Health in Alachua County. “The risk of transmission to humans has increased.”

DOH-Alachua reminds residents and visitors to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Residents should take basic precautions to help limit exposure:

  • Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, pool covers, coolers, toys, flowerpots, or any other containers where sprinkler or rainwater has collected.
  • Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances, and other unused items.
  • Empty and clean birdbaths and pet water bowls at least once or twice a week.
  • Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.
  • Maintain the water balance (pool chemistry) of swimming pools. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use. Repair broken screens on windows, doors, porches, and patios.
  • Those who must be outside when mosquitoes are active, should cover up (wear shoes, socks, long pants, and long sleeves).
  • Use netting to protect children younger than two months.
  • Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house (repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios).

Tips on Repellent Use:

  • Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before you apply a repellent. Some repellents are not suitable for children.
  • Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) are generally recommended. Other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellents contain picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or IR3535. These products are generally available at local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label.
  • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin or onto clothing, but not under clothing.
  • In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of three years. DEET is not recommended for children younger than two months old.
  • Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children. Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.
  • If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing. Again, always follow the manufacturer’s directions.

For more information on what repellent is right for you, consider using the Environmental Protection Agency’s search tool to help choose skin-applied repellent products.

DOH-Alachua continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile virus infections, Eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, malaria, chikungunya, and dengue. Residents are encouraged to report dead birds via the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s site.

For more information on mosquito-borne diseases, visit the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites.

Citizens should report mosquito problems to their municipality’s mosquito control or DOH-Alachua at 352-334-7930.

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