May 12, 2023
Board of Health chairman visits Vector Services
MOBILE, Ala. — Dr. Michael L. Sternberg, who serves as Chairman of the Mobile County Board of Health, received a tour of the Mobile County Health Department’s Vector Services today. Joining him was his son Sam, who is a student at Auburn University.
Showing Dr. Sternberg the facility located in Downtown Mobile were Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, Heath Officer of Mobile County; Derrick Scott, director of the Bureau of Environmental Health; and Patricia Poellnitz, the Administrative Support Specialist of Vector Services. Michael McNeil also discussed how he cares for the hens on a daily basis.
Vector Services performs both Mosquito and Rodent Control services for the citizens of Mobile County. A vector is any insect, rodent, or animal capable of harboring or transmitting diseases to humans.
Much of the tour revolved around the sentinel chicken program. Since 1985, Vector Services has monitored sentinel chickens placed throughout the county to help detect the presence of viruses carried by mosquitoes. In April, MCHD received 100 newly hatched chicks that were placed in a cage heated by lamps. The hens were recently moved to a larger hen house now that they have grown.
Once mature, the chickens are vaccinated for fowl pox, and the initial blood draw is made to ensure they test negative for any diseases. At that point, the hens are banded for identification and tracking purposes. The birds are dispersed to 13 coops located in various predetermined locations throughout Mobile County.
Blood samples are collected weekly from the wings of two hens at each location. MCHD processes the blood samples and sends them to a lab in Tampa, Fla. Test results are usually received within the submitted week and can reveal the presence of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, and St. Louis Encephalitis.
A new online portal is now available to help the public request assistance from Vector Services and receive feedback on their request to deal with mosquitoes or rodents. To learn more about the department, you may visit https://mchd.org/vector-control. From there, you can find a link and a QR code to access the new online portal for ordering services. The telephone numbers for those without internet access are 251-690-8124 for Mosquito Control and 251-690-8819 for Rodent Control.