VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -
Pilot John Carey has flown three night missions in the last week to spray pesticide over some 12,000 acres in Volusia County. This comes after three cases of the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEEV) were confirmed in horses in the county, and several chickens also tested positive for the mosquito-borne illness. Now, officials confirm at least one case of emerging virus, known as Chikungunya.
County officials have issued an advisory, alerting residents to take precautions.
"The advisory is not only for the people who own the horses, but for people," says Paul Minshew, Environmental Manager at the Volusia County Health Department. "Because when we see horse cases, then there's also an increased risk that this virus could get to people."
EEEv is a disease that's rural in nature, says Jim McNelly, the director of Volusia County Mosquito Control.
"Out in the swamps, very complex disease cycle, so there's very little folks can do on their own to help us with that," he adds.
And then there's the other big mosquito concern. The pesky insects have also been identified as carrying an emerging virus known as Chikungunya. The name of the virus derives from an African word that loosely translates as "contorted with pain."
"It's a disease that's transmitted by those mosquitoes right in your backyard, so people can in fact have an impact by tipping and tossing containers in their backyard."
Volusia County health inspectors are working in the lab to identify mosquitoes that might be carrying the Chikengunya or dengue fever viruses.
"We're seeing human cases here in Florida," says Minshew. "So far, they've all been imported cases, meaning that the person contracted it while visiting in the Caribbean."
"We're definitely watching it," McNelly adds. "We have seen one imported case in Volusia County so far. We would expect to see more, but we're prepared for it."