Protect Yourself Against West Nile Virus

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TRENTON – Everyone loves being outside in the summer, and whether you are vacationing at the Jersey Shore, biking in a state park or just relaxing in your backyard, you need to safeguard you and your family from West Nile virus (WNV).

“As the peak infection transmission season begins, I encourage our residents to follow some important preventative measures that will help to reduce the risk for being infected with West Nile virus,” said New Jersey Health and Senior Services Commissioner Dr. Poonam Alaigh. Using mosquito repellent, wearing long sleeves and long pants and limiting outdoor activity when mosquitoes are most active, during dawn, dusk and the evening are key to prevention.”

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

To bring greater attention to prevention of mosquito bites, the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) has declared the week of June 20 – June 26, 2010 the fourteenth annual “National Mosquito Control Awareness Week.” “National Mosquito Control Awareness Week” was established to educate the general public about the significance of mosquitoes in their daily lives and the important service provided by mosquito control workers throughout the United States and worldwide.

So far this season, 16 birds have been tested in the department’s Public Health and Environmental Laboratories, all have been negative for WNV.146 mosquito pools have been tested so far, one pool tested positive in Camden County. There have been no human cases of WNV yet this year. Last year there were three human cases of WNV.

The West Nile virus, an arboviral disease, is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. WNV is not directly transmitted from birds to humans.

About one in 150 persons, or less than 1 percent of those infected with West Nile virus will develop a more severe form of the disease. Symptoms of the more severe disease include severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. However, the elderly are at higher risk of more severe disease.

New Jersey’s WNV surveillance, control, and prevention activities involve the coordinated efforts of a number of federal, state and local agencies. These include DHSS, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, the CDC, the State Mosquito Control Commission, the Rutgers Center for Vector Biology, and local health and mosquito control agencies.

For more information on WNV and New Jersey’s efforts to limit its impact, visit the DHSS West Nile web page at nj.gov/health/cd/westnile/enceph.htm, the Department of Environmental Protection’s web page at nj.gov/dep/mosquito/ or call 1-888-NO-NJ WNV.


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