Researchers have found the virus in sentinel chickens in Belle Glade and Pahokee, the Florida Department of Health said.

Scientists have detected the West Nile virus in western Palm Beach County near Lake Okeechobee, the Florida Department of Health's Palm Beach County office reported Thursday.

Researchers found the virus in chicken flocks in Belle Glade and Pahokee, health officials said.

West Nile is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Most people show only mild symptoms after contracting it. Symptoms include fevers, rashes, vomiting, nausea and joint pain.

Rare cases result in inflammation of the brain and the membranes around the spinal cord, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The last reported case of person contracting West Nile in Palm Beach County was in 2011.

“We are constantly monitoring for mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile Virus, Chikungunya and St. Louis Encephalitis. The confirmation of West Nile Virus is a good reminder for all to take the necessary preventative measures,” Department of Health Palm Beach County Director Dr. Alina Alonso said in a prepared statement.

Residents are advised to protect against mosquito bites by draining standing water from around their homes and businesses, and to make sure that doors and windows are properly screened.

People going outside should use an insect repellent that contains DEET or Picardin, and wear long sleeve shirts, pants and socks, particularly at dusk and dawn, health officials said.

jwhigham@pbpost.com

@JuliusWhigham