Authorities give safety precautions after fatal West Nile affair
NEW JERSEY – After the state of New Jersey reports a confirmed death associated with West Nile virus (WNV), authorities are urging residents to take precautions.
The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) are calling on people to protect themselves from mosquito-borne diseases by taking steps to reduce mosquito populations on their properties.
Currently, New Jersey has 14 human cases of WNV, three confirmed and 11 probable, reported in the following counties: Bergen (2), Burlington (3), Camden (2) and one each in Essex, Gloucester, Middlesex, Passaic, Somerset, Ocean and Monmouth.
Normally, there are about eight WNV infections reported per year. This year, WNV activity in mosquitoes is also high, with more pools of WNV positive mosquitoes found this year compared to the five-year averages.
The Camden County man who died from the virus was in his 60s and fell ill in mid-July. It has been attributed to neuroinvasive disease of WNV. August and September are when most cases of WNV are reported in the state.
“It is important to remind residents to continue to take precautions to protect themselves against mosquito bites,” said NJDOH Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Using insect repellant and avoiding being outdoors when mosquitoes are active are just some of the steps residents can take to protect themselves from mosquito-borne diseases. “
People get WNV disease when they are bitten by a mosquito that has fed on an infected bird. WNV is not transmitted directly from birds to humans.
For many people, the virus causes asymptomatic infection or mild to moderate illness, usually with fever. People over 50 and people with weakened immune systems are at greater risk of developing serious illness.
About one in 150 people will develop a more severe form of the disease, with symptoms such as severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, muscle weakness, and paralysis.
“We are currently seeing an increase in the number of mosquitoes due to the recent Ida flooding,” said Shawn M. LaTourette, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection. “DEP works closely with each county’s mosquito control program and posts safety tips for residents on our social media channels. New Jersey residents can help stay safe by making sure to remove any standing water in yards and cover any empty containers that may hold water for more than three days. “
To protect themselves against mosquito-borne diseases, residents should:
- Apply an EPA registered insect repellent
- Avoid being outdoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active
- Wear long sleeves and long pants
- Crib cover, stroller and baby carrier with mosquito net
- Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes out and use air conditioning when possible
WNV surveillance, control and prevention activities in New Jersey involve the coordinated efforts of a number of federal, state, and local agencies, including: NJDOH, NJDEP, New Jersey Department of Agriculture, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, State Mosquito Control Commission, Rutgers Center for Vector Biology, and local health and mosquito control agencies.
NJDOH’s weekly monitoring reports are online at: nj.gov/health/cd/statistics/arboviral-stats.
NJ arboviral activity in mosquitoes is available at: maps.vectorsurv.org/arbo.
For more information on WNV visit the NJDOH West Nile webpage at nj.gov/health/cd/topics/westnile.shtml and the NJDEP Mosquito web page at nj.gov/dep/mosquito.