As New Jersey enters the peak of West Nile Virus (WNV) season, the New Jersey Department of Health and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection are urging residents to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito-borne diseases by taking simple steps to reduce populations of the insect on their properties.
Officials say New Jersey now has two human cases of WNV. The first case was found in a male in his 40s from Essex County, which was reported earlier this month.
A second case was confirmed in a male in his 70s from Monmouth County.
“While WNV activity in mosquitoes has been much lower than what we have seen in previous seasons, it is important that residents continue to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites, especially since most WNV human cases occur in early September,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.
People over age 50 and people with weak immune systems are at greater risk of developing severe illness.
About one in 150 persons will develop a more severe form of the disease health officials said.
Symptoms of more severe illness include severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.
“All of us can take part in protecting public health by taking simple steps to control the mosquito population," New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe said.
“The most important step for the homeowner is to eliminate standing water on their property to reduce areas where mosquitoes may breed and grow.
Checking flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers and other places that hold water can significantly reduce the risk of mosquito bites and the illnesses they can carry.
We appreciate the continued collaboration of our colleagues at the Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, Rutgers, public health workers and the county mosquito control agencies who are on the front lines working to reduce New Jersey's mosquito population."
**To protect against mosquito-borne diseases, residents should:**
Wear EPA-registered insect repellant
Avoid being outdoors during dawn and dusk when mosquitos are most active
Wear long sleeves and long pants
Cover crib, stroller and baby carrier with mosquito netting
Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outside and use air conditioning when possible
Residents, business owners and contractors can take steps to reduce mosquito populations on their properties by emptying or changing outdoor standing water at least weekly to stop mosquito breeding.
Areas that may need attention include flower pots, birdbaths, clogged rain gutters, plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows, and any containers or trash that may be difficult to see, such as under bushes, homes or around building exteriors.
Contact with mosquitoes can also be reduced by using air-conditioning when possible and ensuring window screens are in good repair.
Detailed guidance for mosquito-proofing your yard are available at https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/topics/vectorborne.shtml.
WNV is an arboviral disease which people can acquire through the bite of a mosquito that has fed on an infected bird. WNV is not directly transmitted from birds to humans. Last year, New Jersey had eight human cases of WNV.
New Jersey's WNV surveillance, control, and prevention activities involve the coordinated efforts of a number of federal, state and local agencies. These include the Department of Health, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the State Mosquito Control Commission, the Rutgers Center for Vector Biology, and local health and mosquito control agencies.