Sentinel chicken tests positive for encephalitis
MORGAN CITY, La. -- Two of three communities in the Tri-City area have had positive tests for encephalitis within about a week, according to Jessie Boudreaux Jr., president and owner of Cajun Mosquito Control.
Morgan City and Patterson have had positive tests in sentinel chickens, but Berwick remains untouched so far, Boudreaux.
A sentinel chicken tested positive for St. Louis encephalitis virus in Morgan City Friday. A week prior to that, a chicken in Patterson tested positive for West Nile virus, Boudreaux said.
Sentinel chickens are birds placed in an area over an extended period of time so that their blood can be tested for the presence of antibodies to various viruses carried by mosquitoes.
Glenn Stokes, owner of Mosquito Control Contractors Inc. said he has not had any positive chickens or mosquito pools from the light traps in the rest of the parish that he monitors.
Boudreaux said increased spraying in the affected area of Morgan City began Friday night, continuing Saturday and will conclude tonight, weather permitting.
Both urged residents to take precautions now, whether there has been a positive report in the community or not.
Residents are asked to avoid mosquitoes, especially at their peak activity times of dusk and dawn.
Among their recommendations are:
—Avoid being outside during peak mosquito activity times, dusk and dawn.
—Apply an insect repellent with 20 to 30 percent DEET to exposed skin surfaces.
—Wear light-colored, long-sleeve shirts and pants, if possible.
—Avoid wearing perfumes and colognes.
—Make sure that your house has tight fitting window and door screens, and that all are free from holes.
—Remove all standing water in items such as bird baths, plant bowls, empty soda cans, old tires, abandoned or unused swimming pools, clogged rain gutters or any containers that may hold water.
Stokes said that while he has had no positive traps within the parish, he did have one bird that tested positive in Lafayette last week and six pools in West Baton Rouge and Ouachita parishes have been reported.
“So West Nile is in Louisiana; however, it is not widespread yet. It is time to be on the alert,” Stokes said.
Stokes said any birds found freshly dead without signs of trauma can be reported to the mosquito companies.
St. Louis encephalitis is more deadly in humans than West Nile, but not as deadly as Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Stokes said.
The Centers for Disease Control website says that most people infected with St. Louis encephalitis have no apparent illness.
“Initial symptoms of those who become ill include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and tiredness. Severe neuroinvasive disease (often involving encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain) occurs more commonly in older adults. In rare cases, long-term disability or death can result. There is no specific treatment for St. Louis encephalitis infection; care is based on symptoms,” the website states.
Meanwhile, West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted to humans by mosquitoes.
“There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile infection. Fortunately, most people infected with West Nile will have no symptoms. About one in five people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms. Less than 1 percent of infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness,” according to the website.
Residents with questions or bird reports can call Cajun Mosquito Control at 985-879-3677 or MCCI at 1-337-365-6995.