TRENTON — Although summer is coming to a close, state mosquito experts cautioned the mosquito season has not ended, and warned that late summer and early fall are the most critical times of the year to be aware of the potential for the dangers of contracting West Nile virus and other viruses from mosquito bites.
There are now 11 confirmed human cases of West Nile virus infection in New Jersey, said Bob Kent, Administrator of the DEP’s Office of Mosquito Control Coordination. Included is a finding made today that a 76-year-old Camden County man with multiple underlying medical conditions and who died last month tested positive for West Nile Virus, according to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.
Mosquitoes shift their biting behavior in search of a blood meal at this time of year and may attack at any time of day, not just during the hours around sunrise and sunset, said Kent, who is urging state residents to take some basic steps to protect themselves and help reduce the mosquito population.
“Summer may be about over but mosquitoes still want one more bite before winter,” said Kent. “West Nile virus is active in the state and will be until these insects stop flying, which may not be until the end of October.”
Kent stressed the state Mosquito Control Commission, which is under the jurisdiction of the DEP, is working closely with mosquito agencies in all 21 counties on mosquito prevention and eradication programs. The State and counties jointly offer surveillance, ground and air spraying efforts, biological control and research to deal with the mosquito population. The goal is to proactively prevent West Nile Virus or other diseases from getting into the human population.
Most of the Commission’s $1.3 million annual budget is used for research, testing and spraying efforts that supplement county funded mosquito programs.
The State Department of Health and Senior Services has confirmed 11 human cases of West Nile Virus in Atlantic, Camden, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean and Passaic counties. Also, 117 birds have died from confirmed cases of the virus in Atlantic, Burlington, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Monmouth, Morris and Ocean counties.
Positive specimens of mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus have been confirmed in all counties. In addition, positive mosquito specimens carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis have been collected in Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties.
“This is a very difficult year as infection rates due to mosquito bites have been early, frequent and higher than average,” said Amy Cradic, DEP Assistant Commissioner for Natural and
Historic Resources, whose agency oversees the State’s mosquito control efforts. “So we are asking residents to be careful and diligent in dealing with mosquitoes.”
Kent urged residents to take a few precautions when outdoors to avoid being bitten. Included are wearing long sleeve and light-colored shirts and pants, and avoiding areas where masses of mosquitoes congregate. Also, avoid using perfumes and colognes while outdoors, but do use a federal EPA-approved repellent.
Here are some tips on how to limit mosquito colonies on your property:
- Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers that have accumulated on your property.
- Pay special attention to discarded tires that may have accumulated on your property. The used tire has become the most important domestic mosquito producer in this country.
- Drill holes in the bottom and elevate recycling containers that are left out of doors.
- Clean clogged roof gutters on an annual basis, particularly if the leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug up the drains. Roof gutters are easily overlooked but can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
- Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use. A wading pool becomes a mosquito producer if it is not used on a regular basis.
- Turn over wheelbarrows and do not allow water to stagnate in bird baths.
- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens are fashionable but become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. A swimming pool that is left untended can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Be aware mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on pool covers.
- Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property. Mosquitoes will develop in any puddle that lasts more than 4 days.
- Maintain mechanical barriers, such as window and door screens, to prevent mosquitoes from entering buildings. Barriers over rain barrels or cistern and septic pipes will deny female mosquitoes the opportunity to lay eggs on water.
If you have problems controlling mosquitoes, contact your county mosquito control agency by calling 888-666-5968.
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