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NJ Mosquitoes Test Positive for West Nile Virus — Here’s How to Protect Yourself

Mosquito on human hand

So far it’s been a hot, wet summer.

We had drenching rains sweep through the Garden State on Thursday, and more showers are in the forecast Friday.

Not surprisingly, the Jersey mosquito population is starting to grow.

“We need to be concerned about mosquito borne illnesses such as West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis, also known as triple E, as well as St. Louis encephalitis,” said New Jersey State Epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan.

According to Scott Crans, the administrator of the Office of Mosquito Control Coordination in the state Department of Environmental Protection, “West Nile virus is the primary mosquito born pathogen that we’re dealing with. We do have some positive activity in mosquitoes already.”

He noted there have not been any confirmed cases in humans so far this summer, but “we had some unusual activity in the Northwestern portion of the state, meaning they turned up some positive mosquitoes a little earlier than would otherwise be normal.”

Tan pointed out mosquito pools in six counties have tested positive for West Nile and in the coming weeks that number could grow.

The virus can cause high fevers, brain swelling and meningitis.

What about Zika?

Tan says “we do not have any cases of Zika viruses that have originated from New Jersey. All of our cases to date have been imported illnesses.”

She explained a mosquito that carries Zika, aedes aegypti, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, has been observed in New Jersey in the past. “But right now, we haven’t identified this as being an issue here.”

When could West Nile virus begin spreading in humans?

“We typically see those cases occur sometime in later August, early September,” Tan said.

She added eastern equine encephalitis primarily infects horses, but humans can get it on rare occasions.

“Right now we have not seen any activity with Triple E or St. Louis encephalitis here in the state,” she said.

Still, she says, “it is absolutely important for people to avoid mosquito bites to prevent illness.”

It’s important “when you’re outdoors you apply an EPA registered insect repellent to your exposed skin.”

She also recommends wearing long sleeves and long pants whenever possible. Use window and door screens, and clear standing water from your property.

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