New Jersey Residents Reminded To Protect Themselves From West Nile Virus

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As New Jersey enters peak mosquito-bite season, Department of Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard reminds residents to protect themselves from mosquito-transmitted infections, including West Nile Virus (WNV).

"Even though we haven't had a human case of West Nile Virus in our state this year, now is the time to take precautionary steps to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites," said Commissioner Howard.

Residents should clean or remove any items on their property that can collect rain or sprinkler water and serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, such as clogged gutters, flower pots, or old car tires. They should also completely change water in birdbaths at least once a week and repair window and door screens.

People should also apply insect repellent to their clothing and exposed skin in accordance with labeling directions, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, weather permitting, when outdoors, and limit outdoor activities at dawn, dusk and during the evening.

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So far this season, the department's Public Health and Environmental Laboratories (PHEL) have tested 1,446 mosquito pools from 21 counties with seven positive pools found in Bergen, Gloucester, Middlesex, Passaic and Somerset counties. PHEL has also tested 59 birds from 15 counties with no positives.

West Nile virus, an arboviral disease, is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has acquired the virus by feeding on an infected bird.

"One of the best ways to combat West Nile Virus is to reduce the number of mosquitoes that can carry the virus," said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson. "To keep mosquito-borne illness at bay, we will remain vigilant in our surveillance and mosquito-control efforts."

About one in 150 people infected with WNV, or less than one percent, will develop a more severe form of the disease. Symptoms of the more severe disease can include severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. The elderly are at higher risk of more severe disease.

New Jersey's WNV and Eastern Equine encephalitis surveillance, control and prevention activities involve the coordinated efforts of a number of federal, state and local agencies. These include DHSS, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the New Jersey Departments of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, the State Mosquito Control Commission, the Rutgers Mosquito Research and Control Unit, and local health and mosquito control agencies.

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