Are you aware of the chickens on the wall? Like sentry guards, they scan the horizon, searching for danger with their ever-watchful eyes. Ready, at a moment's notice, to cluck out a warning call to stir the men-at-arms. "Danger approaches!" They cry in a language not yet known to man. "Ready the trebuchets! Ready the flaming arrows!!" What? Too dramatic? Okay. We may be exaggerating things a bit. But it's true. We owe our very lives to the chickens that watch over us.
Chickens on the wall.
They don't scan the horizon and they don't cluck a warning cry, but that does not keep these feathered sentinels from doing their job. For the last 30 years, chickens in eight locations throughout Pinellas county have been used to detect dangerous, mosquito-borne viruses, from catching residents by surprise. Much in the same way we watch tropical storms develop into hurricanes and warn people before the high winds come, chickens are used to detect the West Nile virus, a potentially deadly virus that has claimed the lives of many Florida residents. They are our first line of defense, and--as Glen-Paul Edson, the county assistant operations manager for mosquito control says, "... the unsung heroes of mosquito control."
Do you hear that sound? It is the sound of the chickens shouting out their warning. On Thursday, July 9th, 2015, the West Nile virus was found in one of the sentinel chickens in Tarpon Springs. It is this year's first confirmed case of the virus.
How should we respond to the warning shout?
It is always smart to take precautions when it comes to mosquito bites. But when West Nile virus is detected, it becomes even more essential. Here are some ways you can ward off bites.
Mosquitoes come out in the morning and in the evening. If you're able to avoid being out at these times, you will reduce bites.
Mosquitoes are looking for skin. The less skin you give them, the better off you'll be. Wear long sleeve shirts and pants when you go out.
Repellent is still the number one way to protect yourself. If you don't like putting sprays with DEET on your skin, consider using oil of lemon eucalyptus, or spray your DEET products on your clothing.
Protect your home and your backyard by having a pest control company treat for mosquito eggs and adult mosquitoes.
If you're going to be in your backyard, and there isn't any breeze, create one. Mosquitoes are horrible fliers and can be deterred if you have a fan blowing on you.
Isn't this cruelty to chickens?
You don't have to worry about those chickens. They do not exhibit any of the adverse effects or symptoms of West Nile virus. In fact, experts believe that it may even be fine to eat an infected chicken.
Take extra precautions for the rest of the summer and into fall to protect yourself and your family from the West Nile virus by contacting the pro’s here at McCall Service and getting a mosquito remediation service. And, the next time you happen to be passing by a chicken ranch, feel free to thank the chickens. They'll appreciate it.