Sentinel chickens test positive for viruses
MORGAN CITY, La. — A contractor hired to monitor encephalitis viruses in St. Mary Parish said sentinel chickens tested positive for West Nile and St. Louis viruses in Morgan City and Patterson on Friday.
Within the last six weeks, a sentinel chicken tested positive for St. Louis encephalitis virus in Morgan City and another chicken in Patterson tested positive for West Nile virus, Jessie Boudreaux Jr., owner of Cajun Mosquito Control said.
Glenn Stokes of Mosquito Control Contractors Inc. said his office has had no positive test results in St. Mary Parish. There have been no positive tests in Berwick, according to Stokes, who monitors Berwick and both monitors and treats unincorporated areas of the parish.
Between Stokes’ and Boudreaux’s companies, they monitor all of St. Mary Parish.
Boudreaux said protocol measures have been implemented and ultra-low volume spraying was scheduled for the following three nights, weather permitting.
Residents are encouraged to take necessary precautions in avoiding mosquitoes, especially at their peak activity times of dusk and dawn, Boudreaux said.
If residents must be outside:
—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 windows 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.
June through October is generally the most active period for West Nile virus activity, Boudreaux said.
Monitoring for the encephalitis viruses gives officials an idea of where to prioritize efforts to reduce mosquito populations.
Statewide, there are seven new West Nile cases in Louisiana, bringing this year’s total so far to eight, state health officials said Friday.
At this time last year, the state had 53 cases of West Nile virus, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals said in a news release.
“Whether there are lots of cases or just a few, as long as there are mosquitoes, there is always a risk of becoming infected,” said J.T. Lane, assistant secretary for public health. “We urge people not to become complacent.”
DHH reports two neuroinvasive disease cases, one each from Calcasieu and Ouachita parishes. That’s the most serious type of the virus, infecting the brain and spinal cord and can lead to death, paralysis and brain damage.
There were four new West Nile fever cases, the milder viral infection, in which people experience flu-like symptoms. Those cases included one each in Ascension and St. Tammany parishes and two cases in Lafayette Parish.
In addition, there was one asymptomatic case reported in St. Tammany Parish. The majority of people who contract West Nile will be asymptomatic, meaning they show no symptoms. Those cases are typically detected through blood donations or routine medical tests.
Last year, Louisiana saw 160 cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease, down from 2002’s high of 204 cases.
Residents with questions or wishing to report mosquito problems can call Cajun Mosquito Control at 985-879-3677 or MCCI at 1-337-365-6995. Residents may contact the appropriate municipality or parish government.