Orange County issues mosquito advisory after Eastern Equine Encephalitis discovery
The Department of Health issued an advisory to Orange County residents urging caution as area mosquitoes are testing positive for the rare but deadly disease. Here's what you should know.
The state Department of Health issued an advisory to Orange County residents urging caution as area mosquitoes are testing positive for a deadly disease.
Orange County Mosquito Control found 50% of a sentinel chicken coop tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitisdisease along the perimeter of the county. The disease is rare but is deadly and can cause serious neurological problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Library of Medicine reports about four to eight cases throughout the U.S. a year.
Steve Harrison, the manager of Orange County Mosquito Control, said the levels of the virus observed so far aren’t at a panic level, but residents and tourists should be cautious.
“Avoid being outdoors during the times that mosquitoes are most active during the corpuscular periods; the evenings, early nighttime, the early morning hours,” he said.
If you have to be outside during those times, Harrison recommends covering up and wearing EPA-approved mosquito repellent.
The Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus is carried by migratory birds and then spreads via mosquitoes. The disease typically is observed around Gulf Coast states. This is the third time since 2019 that an EEE advisory was issued in Orange County.
The sentinel chicken coop that reported a large finding of EEE was in the southwest corner of the county, Harrison said. But that doesn't mean residents living far from that area should take it easy.
Harrison said they're finding infected chickens in spots peppered throughout the county.
"I don't want residents to kind of get a false sense of security thinking like 'I'm nowhere near that area,'" he said. "If we have this site that is showing this kind of activity, then chances are this creates a higher risk for transmission to people throughout the county and so that's why the advisory is countywide."
As for how long the advisory will last, Harrison said there is no standard, but it will likely run through the end of the season in December. Although the season is looking to be prolific with mosquito buzz, Harrison said.
"We have gotten a lot of rain lately, and we've been receiving a lot of calls from residents requesting mosquito control assistance. It seems like that's a little heavier than last year," he said.
Mosquito Control is also tracking several other viruses throughout the county, including the detection of the West Nile virus in some sentinel chickens. The county Department of Health also reported malaria and dengue, but these weren't transmitted via local mosquitoes. Rather, the cases appear to be travel-associated, Harrison said, with folks having already been infected prior to entering Orange.
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