A chicken in Elmwood that is part of Jefferson Parish’s “sentinel flock” tested positive for West Nile virus in June, prompting additional spraying and monitoring of mosquitoes in the area.
Parish officials said the infection was not a cause for concern and noted that this was the first case of the virus in a season that has seen relatively few infections among the chickens used to monitor the spread of the disease.
“In 2012, we probably had about 15 by this point,” said Steve Pavlovich, of Jefferson Parish Mosquito Control.
The parish conducted additional mosquito spraying in the area after the infection was identified and sent crews to look for and treat stagnant water where mosquitoes breed, Pavlovich said. Mosquito Control also distributed fliers to notify residents in the area to be alert.
The parishes uses chickens to monitor for West Nile because even though they can contract the disease, they do not suffer any ill effects from it and do not pass it along, Pavlovich said.
Those chickens are located throughout the parish, including at parish facilities and private residences whose occupants care for the birds, which are tested every week, Pavlovich said. The parish also traps and tests mosquitoes to look for infection, he said.
While stressing the positive test result was not a cause for concern, Pavlovich said residents should take precautions against mosquitoes that could carry the virus by making sure there are no containers of stagnant water or other breeding areas on their property, such as broken pipes. They should also check to ensure their doors and windows fit tightly so mosquitoes can’t enter their homes, he said.