Pinellas County Mosquito Control is responding to an increase in mosquito-borne disease activity in areas of the county and is urging citizens to take basic cautions to limit exposure.

The county did not include information about what areas in its press release, but said a small number of sentinel chickens have tested positive for West Nile Virus. Although no human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in the county in 2019, the increase in activity warrants a heightened concern.

Citizens are advised to stay indoors during the peak hours of mosquito activity at dawn and dusk when possible, use approved mosquito repellants and ensure screens and seals are intact around windows and doors.

Sentinel chickens serve as an early-warning detection system for some mosquito-borne diseases. This system alerts Mosquito Control to the presence of diseases such as West Nile Virus, St. Louis Encephalitis, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and Highlands J Virus. There are eight locations in the county where chickens are kept and tested regularly.

Mosquito Control technicians are targeting adult mosquitoes and larvae by treating with fogging trucks, aerial larvicide and ground larvicide, in addition to their ongoing treatment efforts. They are also continuing to monitor the sentinel chickens and mosquito populations for mosquito-borne diseases.

Citizens are also urged to drain all standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying. This includes water in garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots and any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected. Birdbaths and pet water bowls should be emptied and cleaned once or twice a week, and junk items in kept in yards should be discarded.

Visit www.pinellascounty.org/resident/mosquito_control.htm to find a mosquito control request form and additional information about stopping mosquitoes. Residents can also contact Pinellas County Mosquito Control at 727-464-7503.

Questions about the transmission and monitoring of mosquito-borne diseases can be directed to the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County, at 727-824-6932.