Information from the Florida Mosquito Control Association on Zika Virus

walton-county-logoZika is a virus transmitted by mosquitoes to humans. The virus has recently spread to the Americas. Symptoms of infection are usually mild, but severe complications including serious birth defects and various neurological and autoimmune complications can result from infection with the virus. Currently, there are no vaccines or medications available to prevent infection. Avoiding mosquito bites is the best defense against Zika virus infection.

What is Zika?

Zika is a virus related to dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile viruses that was discovered in 1947 in Africa. It is named after the Zika Forest in Uganda (zika means “overgrown” in Lugandan), where the virus was first recovered from a sentinel rhesus monkey that was being used in a yellow fever research project; the agent was eventually described as Zika virus in 1952. It was first isolated from a human in Nigeria in 1954.

Where can Zika virus be found?

Until 2007, Zika was a relatively obscure virus, confined to a narrow zone around the equator in Africa and parts of Asia. In Africa, it was known mostly from forest monkeys, but subsequent work indicates that humans were often infected but not diagnosed with the virus. In 2007, a disease outbreak on the Yap Islands in Micronesia, at first believed to be dengue or Chikungunya, turned out to be caused by the Zika virus. Later, outbreaks of Zika occurred in Polynesia, Easter Island, the Cook Islands, and New Caledonia.

In 2015 a large outbreak started in Bahia, Brazil and spread throughout South and Central America and the Caribbean. Large outbreaks of the disease have been reported from many countries in the area including Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and probably others that have not yet reported accurate statistics. In the continental United States, travel-related cases of the disease have been reported from several states, including Florida.

How is the virus transmitted?
Zika is an arthropod borne virus (arbovirus) principally transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Aedes. In the Americas, the principal vector is the yellow fever mosquito, Ae. aegypti, but the Asian Tiger Mosquito Ae. albopictus, is a potential vector as well. These mosquitoes live in close association with humans, and occur in numerous types of water-holding containers such as buckets, plastic containers, discarded tires and other items often found around human dwellings. They do not live in ditches, marshes, or other large bodies of water. The Zika virus can be frequently transmitted from mother to fetus, and there is one documented case of the virus being transmitted sexually.

What are the symptoms of Zika virus infection?
About 1 in 5 persons infected with the virus develops symptoms, which are considered “mild”. Primary symptoms include headaches, skin rash, fever, pink eye, general malaise, and muscle/joint pain. Little is known about potential long term neurological effects of infection with Zika. Symptoms develop from two to 10 days after exposure and last approximately from 2 days to a week.

The fact that a large proportion of those infected are asymptomatic means that the daily routine of these infected persons will not be interrupted by the infection, potentially exposing them to mosquito bites and serving as a source for mosquito infection that can further spread the virus. The virus is usually present in the blood of an infected person for a few days during which a mosquito may acquire the infection by bite.

There is more unknown than known about complications resulting from Zika virus infection. For this reason alone, infection with the virus should be taken very seriously, and appropriate precautions should be taken to avoid infection. Zika virus infection in pregnant women can result in serious, even lethal consequences for the fetus. During the current Zika pandemic, a very high incidence of babies born with abnormally small heads and significant brain damage, a condition known as microcephaly, is being documented in mothers that were infected with the virus during pregnancy. Various health organizations, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend that pregnant women avoid travel to destinations where Zika is found. As with other viral infections, there also appears to be a connection between Zika infection and development of Guillain—Barré syndrome, a condition where the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system.

What is the treatment?

There is no specific treatment for Zika virus infection. Given that the primary symptoms, if any, are usually mild, only supportive treatment (rest, fluids, and medications such as acetaminophen for fever and pain) are recommended. Patients should not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs until dengue has been ruled out because these drugs may aggravate bleeding associated with some forms of dengue.

How can I avoid infection with Zika virus?

As with other mosquito-transmitted pathogens, prevention involves limiting exposure to mosquito bites. The most important preventive action is personal protection, which means using protective clothing (e.g., long pants and sleeves) and an approved mosquito repellent, preferably one containing DEET. Because the mosquitoes that transmit the virus can reproduce in a variety of water holding containers, eliminating such potential mosquito developmental sites from the home is also important.

While the Florida Mosquito Control Association is not a response agency, our members include professionals in mosquito control, public health, academia, industry, and government who work with mosquitoes and the pathogens they transmit. We will share information provided from our members as new information comes to light.

FMCA Website:
Florida Department of Health:
Mosquito Information Website:
Locate your local mosquito control district webpage here:
Florida Resident’s Guide to Mosquito Control:

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Walton County fishing report for Feb. 3

sheepsheadFishing is good

Bay: Sheepshead being caught along the bridge.

River: Lots of crappie minnows being sold, that will tell you!


Click here for fishing forecast

Bay and river report brought to you by Copeland’s. “Where the locals shop and the tourists are welcome.”

Click here to find out more about Copeland’s.
Copeland’s Gun and Tackle Shop
17290 U.S. Hwy. 331 S
Freeport, Florida 32439

(850) 835-4277
Store hours:
Mon. – Fri.: 6 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sat.: 6 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sun.: Closed

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Farm safety camp for kids in DeFuniak Springs Feb. 15

UFextensionJoin the Extension Office for a fun filled day on Mon., Feb. 15 for youth ages 8-18 to learn about farm and home safety. (Children under the age of 8 are welcome, but must be accompanied by a parent). The event will be held from 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the Walton County Fairgrounds, Hwy. 83, DeFuniak Springs. Early drop off  7 a.m., Late pick up 4:30 p.m.

The Extension Office is also looking for teens or adults to volunteer and help with this event, please call us at 850-892-8172 for more information. Teens will receive community service hours for helping with this Day Camp.

Farm Safety Day is an interactive day camp designed to educate youth on various safety topics; from those working with large animals – to beyond the farm gate with basic 1st aid tips that can be used in everyday life. Kids will rotate stations to participate in all workshops offered. This program will benefit the entire community as it benefits more than just farm safety.

Classes include:
First Aid
ATV Safety
Smoke Trailer
Boating Safety
Tractor Safety
Crash Simulation
Large Animal Safety
Fire Extinguisher Training
Snake Identification
4-H Motion Commotion – Distracted Driving

Cost is $5 per child and includes lunch, t-shirt, classes, and a goody bag. Participation is limited to the first 150 applicants. Registration deadline is Feb. 5.
Applications available by visiting our website at:

For More Information Contact: Jena Brooks, 850-892-8172
[email protected]

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Agritourism and Ecotourism Business Development Conference in Pensacola Feb. 18-19

ecotourismThe University of Florida (UF) Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Extension Escambia and Santa Rosa counties and Naturally EscaRosa are pleased to announce that the 2016 Gulf Coast Agritourism & Ecotourism Business Development Conference will be held at the Gulf Power Building (One Energy Place) in Pensacola, Florida February 18-19, 2016.

The conference will be an exciting blend of informational sessions and hands on activities. It will provide important information for new business startups as well as long established companies in Agritourism and Ecotourism.

Registration is only $25 and can be completed online here:

Topics include:

  • Economic Impacts of Ecotourism and Agritourism in the Area
  • Enhancing Rural Tourism in MS/LA with Collaboration and Regional Planning
  • Southern Style Hospitality
  • Small Farms Communications
  • Experimental Station for Tourism – Long Acres Ranch
  • Capitalizing on sustainable tourism for economic and community benefits

 U-pick operations, fresh produce markets, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, etc. or ecological (paddling, camping, fishing, etc.) are encouraged to attend.

For more information on the 2016 Gulf Coast Agritourism & Ecotourism Business Development Conference, contact Chris Verlinde (850) 623-3868 or Carrie Stevenson (850) 475-5230

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Freeport Marina offers full service boating accommodations

freeportmarinaboatsDid you know there is a full service marina located in Freeport on the deep water channel of LaGrange Bayou? Located within the community of Marina Village off of Bay Loop Road (CR83A), you will be delighted to know Freeport Marina offers many amenities for local and visiting boaters.

With 46 slips, starting at $155/mo., the marina can accommodate vessels up to 55 ft. in length.
Amenities include:
• Electric
• Water
• Wi-Fi
• 24-hour security surveillance
• Ethanol free gas on land and dock
• Boat launch
• Waste pump out station
• Transient dockage
• Dry storage

A ships store is open daily from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Boating supplies, snacks, refreshments are offered along with fishing licenses, live and frozen bait, tackle, ice, and restroom facilities. The store also accepts consignment items. The Marina offers a 10% discount to military, and all major credit cards accepted.

Freeport map [Converted]Head over to Freeport and check out Freeport Marina, it’s the only one in Walton County on the north side of the Choctawhatchee Bay.


Marina Village at Lagrange Bayou – Freeport Marina, 621 Marina Village Blvd., Freeport, FL 32439

Phone: (850) 835-2035

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Great Backyard Bird Count Feb. 12-15, 2016

 Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.

Since then, more than 100,000 people of all ages and walks of life have joined the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.

To participate, imply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, February 12-15, 2016. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world.

If you’re new to the count, first register online then enter your checklist. If you have already participated in another Cornell Lab citizen-science project, you can use your existing login.

Click here for more info on how to get started.

In 2015, Great Backyard Bird Count participants in more than 100 countries counted 5,090 species of birds on more than 147,000 checklists! See the full 2015 summary.

During the count, you can explore what others are seeing in your area or around the world. Share your bird photos by entering the photo contest, or enjoy images pouring in from across the globe.

Then keep counting throughout the year with eBird, which uses the same system as the Great Backyard Bird Count to collect, store, and display data any time, all the time.

Why count birds?
Scientists and bird enthusiasts can learn a lot by knowing where the birds are. Bird populations are dynamic; they are constantly in flux. No single scientist or team of scientists could hope to document and understand the complex distribution and movements of so many species in such a short time.

Scientists use information from the Great Backyard Bird Count, along with observations from other citizen-science projects, such as the Christmas Bird Count, Project FeederWatch, and eBird, to get the “big picture” about what is happening to bird populations. The longer these data are collected, the more meaningful they become in helping scientists investigate far-reaching questions, like these:

  • How will the weather and climate change influence bird populations?
  • Some birds, such as winter finches, appear in large numbers during some years but not others. Where are these species from year to year, and what can we learn from these patterns?
  • How will the timing of birds’ migrations compare with past years?
  • How are bird diseases, such as West Nile virus, affecting birds in different regions?
  • What kinds of differences in bird diversity are apparent in cities versus suburban, rural, and natural areas?

The Great Backyard Bird Count is led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with Bird Studies Canada and many international partners. The Great Backyard Bird Count is powered by eBird. The count is made possible in part by founding sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

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Camellia Festival at Eden Gardens State Park Feb. 20

camelliaatedenThe Friends of Eden and Florida State Parks pay tribute to the camellia Saturday, Feb. 20 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Eden Gardens State Park.

Visitors are invited to stroll through amazing camellias, enjoy a camellia floral arrangement demonstration, learn air layering, (a camellia propagating technique), and camellia waxing for bloom preservation. Attend a program on camellia care and other plant related topics by Marie Harrison, a Master Gardener and author of numerous gardening books.

Living history re-enactors will also be present on the grounds during the Festival. A food vendor will be on the grounds, picnic tables by Tucker Bayou are available for visitors use in the park.

Camellias, air layered from Eden plants, will be available for a donation from the nursery.

Tentative schedule for the day: (held in the pavilion area)
10:15 – 11:00 a.m. – Presentation on camellias by Marie Harrison
11:15 a.m. – Waxing camellia blooms
11:45 a.m. – Demonstrations on air-layering
12:15 p.m. – Floral demonstration using camellias by Russ Barley of Emerald Coast Flowers and Gifts.

12 noon to 2 p.m. – Dismal Creek bluegrass band will be performing at the stage area.

This community event is free with free admission to the State Park – donations made to the Friends of Eden will be appreciated.

Learn more about Eden’s camellias by clicking here.

Eden Gardens State Park is located in Point Washington, off U.S. 98 on C.R. 395.
For more information, call (850) 267-8320.
181 Eden Garden Road, Point Washington, Fl. 32459 ::MAP::

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