Mosquito borne illnesses are turning up again despite the late fall season. In the last week Jackson County has had one horse test positive for West Nile and a deer test positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Even though we are halfway through October, don't be fooled into thinking mosquitoes went away with summer time.
In Jackson County the Health Department spays infested areas twice a week for the pests but the blood suckers are still wreaking havoc. According to Jackson County Environmental Health Director T.G. Harkrider this is the season for West Nile, "late September early November is the peak of West Nile season here in Florida."
Harkrider says the spike in numbers could be pinpointed to migration patterns in specific birds, "Crows and jays and as those birds migrate sometimes the disease migrates south with them, that's just a thought about it."
While you may think every one of these insects has it out for your skin, only the females bite and if they are carrying West Nile. you could soon carry symptoms like a stiff neck, headache, lethargy and confusion, but not all infected people show symptoms. Those at high risk for contracting the virus are young children, elderly and those with a weak immune system. Harkrider urges you to take preventative action against the pests, "Drain all standing water around your house, don't forget bird baths, dog bowls and gutters."
Other tips include wearing bug spray with a Deet in the product and covering up your arms and legs. Harkrider assures this is an annual issue in the panhandle, "It's nothing to panic about but do take the proper precautions to protect your family."
If you spot any dead birds in your area, especially a Blue Jay or Crow, click here to report.