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West Nile reaches Madison County

Story submitted: Florida Department of Health

The Florida Department of Health in Madison County (DOH-Madison) encourages all residents and visitors to take precautions to protect against mosquito-borne illnesses and prevent mosquito bites, particularly during the warm, moist summer months. In Madison County, one horse has recently been diagnosed with Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile virus.

Vaccinating your horse(s) every six months is the best prevention of EEE and West Nile virus in horses. Horse owners should also minimize exposure to mosquitos by frequently changing water in troughs and eliminating other standing water sources as listed below. For more information about EEE, West Nile virus and vaccinations in horses, contact your local veterinarian. The Madison County Mosquito Control and DOH-Madison will continue surveillance and prevention efforts and encourages everyone to take basic precautions to help limit exposure.

To protect yourself from mosquitoes, you should remember to drain water and cover yourself in protective clothing; all techniques in keeping mosquitoes away from doing harm.

Drain standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying. Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected. You may also discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren't being used.

Emptying and cleaning birdbaths and pet's water bowls at least once or twice a week would be sufficient and protecting boats and vehicles from rain with tarps can help fight off mosquito infestation.

Residents should take note that maintaining swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.

Cover skin with clothing or repellent. Always use repellants according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, and IR3535 are effective. Additionally, mosquito netting should be used to protect children younger than two months old. Additional steps for protecting yourself include the following:

Clothing - Wear shoes, socks, and long pants and long-sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.

Repellent - Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.

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 on 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.

Residents may also protect the inside of their homes by covering doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house. Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches and patios for additional protection.

For more information on what repellent is right for you, consider using the Environmental Protection Agency's search tool to help you choose skin-applied repellent products: http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/#searchform.

The Department continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito-borne illnesses, including EEE, St. Louis encephalitis, Malaria, West Nile virus infections and Dengue. For more information, visit DOH's website at http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/mosquito-borne-diseases/index.html or call the Florida Department of Health in Madison County at (850) 973-5000.

The Department works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Follow them on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.floridahealth.gov.

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