State, County Officials Urge Caution Against West Nile Over Labor Day
Late summer and early fall are typically the most critical times of the year to be aware of the potential for the dangers of contracting West Nile Virus from mosquito bites.
State health and environment officials, along with Union County are warning residents about the potential dangers of getting West Nile Virus from mosquito bites. "West Nile Virus cases tend to increase in late summer and fall," N.J. Dept. Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd said in a press release. "Residents should protect themselves by using repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants and avoiding the outdoors during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active." Mosquitoes can stay active until late October.
"Mosquitoes also can become more active throughout the entire day at this time of year," according to the joint press release by the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Health.
"The DEP's mosquito program coordinates and supplements the network of county mosquito agencies with an Integrated Pest Management approach that stresses multiple strategies beyond the application of pesticides,'' according to Bob Kent, Administrator of the DEP's Office of Mosquito Control Coordination.
The state Department of Health has identified eight human cases of West Nile Virus this year. The locations of infections include Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties.
West Nile Virus cases have increased this year with more infections reported than ever before. The virus was first detected in the U.S. in 1999. According to the release a majority of the 1,590 cases in 2012 to date have been reported from six states-Texas, Michigan, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Dakota. Nationally there have been 66 deaths.
New Jersey has increased its air surveillance of mosquito breeding hot spots and its use of aircraft pesticides to reduce the threat bites to people.
"The surveillance and management of chronic mosquito producing sites continues on a year-round basis, and includes wetlands management and the introduction of biological control agents, such as mosquito eating fish and tiny crustaceans, or copepods, said Kent.
The Union County Bureau of Mosquito Control continued its mosquito control efforts on Thursday night with adulticide sprayings at Oak Ridge and Esposito parks in Clark. The move was done to prepare for Labor Day weekend, when residents will be hanging out in county parks and picnic areas.
County anti-mosquito operations are also expected to take place in Berkeley Heights, Cranford, Elizabeth, Hillside, Kenilworth, Linden, New Providence, Plainfield, Rahway, Roselle, Roselle Park, Scotch Plains, Springfield, Union, Westfield.
In 2010, state officials said there were 30 human cases of West Nile virus in New Jersey, including two deaths. Only 7 human cases, and no deaths, were reported in 2011.
"The majority of individuals infected with the virus will show no symptoms. Some people will have mild to moderate symptoms of West Nile fever, which may include fever, headache, rash, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and swollen lymph nodes," a press release from NJ states. "Symptoms appear within 2 to 15 days of being bitten by an infected mosquito. Older adults and immune-compromised individuals are at higher risk of developing severe illness."
For more information on tips to help limit mosqito populations and protect your self from bites, check out the following from state and county press releases:
According to the Centers for Disease Control, some of the most effective methods to avoid mosquito bites include:
- Use an EPA-registered insect repellent while enjoying the outdoors.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when weather permits.
- Avoid the outdoors at dawn, dusk and in the early evening which are peak mosquito biting times.
- Install or repair window and door screens.
The DEP offers the following tips on how to limit mosquitoes 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. 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 four 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.
If a person thinks they may be infected, they should visit their health care provider for further evaluation and potential testing. There is no treatment for West Nile Virus, and mild to moderate infections usually resolve within 7 to 10 days. More severe infections may require hospitalization and supportive treatment.
For additional information on the West Nile virus visit the CDC’s website, www.cdc.gov.
For a listing of streets included in this evening’s scheduled operations visit www.ucnj.org/mc or call the Union County Bureau of Mosquito Control at 908-654-9834/654-9873.
This article uses information released by the NJDEP and Union County.