Deadly virus found in neighboring counties

Published 11:21 pm Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Officials with the Alabama Department of Public Health said Monday that recent findings show the presence of dangerous viruses found within animals in Alabama could pose a risk to humans.

Dr. Dee W. Jones, state public health veterinarian, said the agency has confirmed four positive cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in horses located in Dallas County and has also diagnosed four sentinel chickens in Baldwin County as suffering from the West Nile virus.

According to an ADPH report, the chickens are located in Gulf Shores, Magnolia Springs and Perdido Beach, while additional reports of sick horses have come in from locations in Elmore and Montgomery counties.

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Jones said the significance of positive horses and chickens mean the virus is present in the mosquito population. He warned the same mosquitoes that infect animals pose a risk to humans. He added that the confirmation of viral activity is very common in the summer and fall months and positive case counts in the state vary from year to year based on mosquito populations. The virus, he said, can only be spread through the bite of a mosquito and not from another animal.

“With many people enjoying the outdoor activities, it is important that residents take every effort to reduce their exposure to mosquitoes,” Jones said. He warned locals to, “keep your mosquito repellent with you at all times when you are working or participating in recreational activities outdoors.”