West Nile Virus Vigilance Urged by Health Officials
Confirmed case in Somerset County was not from Bernards, Bernardsville or Peapack Gladtsone; tips on preventing mosquito-borne illness.
Even before Somerset County issued an announcement last Friday that a Somerset County resident was this year's first confirmed case of West Nile Virus, the Bernards Township Health Department issued a warning and tips for preventing the mosquito-borne disease.
The case was not in the Bernards health department's coverage area, which includes Bernards Township, Bernardsville, Peapack-Gladstone and neighboring communities in Morris County, including Long Hill Township, confirmed Lucy Forgione, director of the health department.
"Summer is going but mosquitoes are not going with it. With continued mosquito activity, infected mosquitoes may carry West Nile Virus season into October," the health department said.
Even before the Somerset County case was confirmed in a Somerset County woman, the N.J. Department of Health had identified eight human cases of West Nile in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties, the township health department said in a release. Nationally this year's outbreak is one of the worst to hit the U.S., with a 25 percent rise in the number of confirmed cases around the first week in September.
The affected person was a woman who was hospitalized but has since recovered, according to the release from the Somerset County Board of Freeholders. Her property and those of adjacent residents were inspected and sprayed for mosquitoes, according to a release from the county.
The Somerset County Health Department did not release the town where the woman lives.
Forgione said she had not been notified of any spraying in Somerset County, but had received recent notification from Morris County regarding the other towns in the township department's coverage area, which also include Chester Borough and Mendham Borough and Township.
Prevention is the best way to avoid West Nile Virus, the county and township health officials agreed.
"You are not going to get West Nile Virus from your pet or from other people. A bite from an infected mosquito is the key to transmission," according to the release from the health department.
Forgione said that an incubation period for West Nile is three to 12 days, and symptoms of the virus can range from mild to severe. In fact, she said that information indicates about 20 percent of those infected actually go on to develop the virus. Others may not feel well, but not be aware they actually are ill, she noted.
Generally, the only confirmed cases are among those who end up in the hospital, she said.
The Bernards Township Health Department urges the public to practice the three D’s to avoid being bitten by an infected mosquito.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus when outdoors. The higher the concentration of DEET, the longer the protection. Follow directions. Apply to skin not covered by clothing. Do not apply to eyes, mouth or broken skin.
- Avoid products that combine sunscreen with insect repellent. Apply separate products.
- Wear light colored clothing. Cover up with long pants and sleeves. Permethrin can be sprayed on clothing, hats, tents or sleeping bags BUT do not use on skin.
- For children: Use mosquito netting on strollers and infant carriers when outdoors. DEET insect repellents can be used on children older than two months of age. Apply to your hands and then rub on child’s skin. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children younger than three years of age.
- Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water so get rid of standing water in old tires, buckets, planters, pool covers, lawn furniture, play sets, and toys.
- Install or repair well-fitting screens to your doors and windows.
- Clean out gutters and drains.
- Cover garbage, rain barrels, and recycling bins. Remove any loose garbage from your yard that may hold water such as lids, wrappers, cans, and jars.
- Change water for pets, birdbaths, and lawn decorations every four days.
- Keep water clean in children’s wading pools and drain them when not in use.
DUSK TO DAWN:
- Stay indoors from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
- If you go outside wear long pants and sleeves.
Further information is available on state and county websites:
- NJ Department of Health West Nile Virus: http://www.state.nj.us/health/cd/westnile/index.shtml
- Avoid Mosquitoes Checklist: http://www.state.nj.us/health/cd/documents/faq/mosquito_checklist.pdf
- Somerset County Mosquito Control Program: http://www.co.somerset.nj.us/mosquito/mosquitocontrolqna.html
- Morris County Mosquito Commission: http://www.morriscountynj.gov/mosquito/