Health Officer Kevin Thomas asks residents to continue preventive measures to protect against mosquito bites. “With the hottest weather months upon us it is important to protect you and your family from disease spreading mosquitoes, particularly when outside during dusk and dawn hours. As it gets darker earlier in the evening, you and your children may be outside increasingly during these high-risk periods,” said Thomas. Diseases such as West Nile Virus (WNV) are most often transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Most WNV infections are mild and persons often have no symptoms. Approximately 20% of those infected develop a generally mild illness called WNV fever syndrome, characterized by fever, headache, weakness, nausea, body aches, and sometimes associated with a rash and swollen glands. WNV can rarely cause a very serious and sometimes fatal disease. Approximately 1 in 150 infections will result in severe neurological disease, characterized by encephalitis, meningitis or acute flaccid paralysis. Symptoms may include fever, headache, stiff neck, altered mental status (ranging from confusion to coma) and additional signs of brain dysfunction. If you are experiencing these signs or symptoms, you should seek medical care and inform your physician if you have had mosquito bites.
As of July 30, 2015 no human cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed in New Jersey. However, the virus has been detected in 2 birds and 65 mosquito samples collected throughout New Jersey. According to Dr. Peter Bosak, Director of the Cape May County Mosquito Control Department, in Cape May County 4 positives mosquito samples were found during July in the following locations: 3 positive samples in Upper Township and 1positive in Avalon.
“There are many protective measures that you can take to protect yourself from West Nile virus,” added Thomas. “You should safeguard your house and property to reduce the number of mosquitoes near your home and you should protect yourself from mosquito bites when outdoors, particularly during dawn and dusk hours.” Specific prevention steps include:
• Apply mosquito repellent containing DEET when outdoors
• Wear long sleeves and pants
• Limit outdoor activity during dawn and dusk hours
• Remove standing water on your property where mosquitoes can lay eggs. Mosquitoes will develop in any puddle that lasts more than 4 days!
• Clean and chlorinate unused swimming pools.
• Maintain screens on doors and windows
• Clean your gutters and make sure water runs freely
The County Departments of Health and Mosquito Control work together each year to help prevent West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases. Both agencies have surveillance programs in place to identify the virus in people, birds, and mosquitoes. This information is used by the Department of Mosquito Control to target areas in the County to reduce the mosquito population.
Information on West Nile virus can be found at www.cmchealth.net, or www.cdc.gov/features/StopMosquitoes/. To learn about public health news and local events, “like” the Cape May County Department of Health on Facebook.
Contact: Kevin Thomas, Public Health Coordinator