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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
July 21, 2006

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Nathan Rudy
609-984-7160


 
New Jersey West Nile Virus Season Begins With Infected Mosquitoes


 

The 2006 West Nile virus (WNV) season has officially begun in New Jersey as four mosquito pools from Burlington, Hudson and Monmouth counties tested positive for WNV this week, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services announced today.

"The wet and hot summer means mosquitoes have an excellent opportunity to breed and spread throughout the state," said Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D. "As we enter the peak West Nile season, it is important that New Jerseyans protect themselves from mosquito bites that could transmit the disease."

The Department has tested 562 pools and 70 birds from 20 counties to date this summer, with only the four mosquito pools testing positive for WNV. There have been no human cases in 2006.

"As we continue our comprehensive testing through the mosquito season we will see more positive test results in birds and mosquitoes for West Nile," said Commissioner Jacobs. "Cases of West Nile infections in people have been waning in the past few years, but there is still a risk and residents should maintain vigilance for themselves and their loved ones."

Residents can assist in limiting the impact of WNV on the state by eliminating conditions where mosquitoes can breed. This can be achieved by removing all standing water from their property, and cleaning or removing items where rain or sprinkler water can gather such as clogged gutters, flowerpots, car tires, or garbage can lids. Recreational and decorative standing water such as in birdbaths and kiddie pools should be changed regularly. County mosquito control agencies may, though a cooperative program with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, stock mosquito eating fish suitable for ornamental ponds.

Individuals can protect themselves by applying insect repellent with DEET to their clothing and exposed skin in accordance with labeling directions, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors when the weather permits, and limiting outdoor activities at dawn, dusk and during the evening. Window and door screens should also be checked for rips or tears and repaired to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.

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 one percent of those infected with WNV, will develop a more severe form of the disease. Symptoms of the more severe disease can include severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. The elderly are at higher risk of more severe disease.

New Jersey's WNV and Eastern Equine encephalitis (EEE) surveillance, control and prevention activities involve the coordinated efforts of a number of federal, state and local agencies. These include DHSS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, the State Mosquito Control Commission, the Rutgers Mosquito Research and Control Unit, and local health and mosquito control agencies.

More information regarding WNV and New Jersey's efforts to limit its impact can be found at http://nj.gov/health/cd/westnile/enceph.htm or by calling 1-888-NO-NJ WNV.

 
 
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