Potentially Deadly Virus Spreading in New Jersey
New Jersey health officials are warning we are entering the peak season for the transmission of West Nile Virus to humans.
The warning comes after the New Jersey Department of Health and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection confirm one death linked to West Nile.
"With continued rainfall and warm weather, we can expect the mosquito season and the potential for disease transmission to extend well into the fall,” said DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette in a statement.
West Nile is transmitted when a person is bitten by a mosquito that has fed on an infected bird. Birds cannot transmit the virus directly to humans.
New Jersey officials routinely test mosquito pools for the presence of West Nile Virus. That testing has shown high numbers of mosquitoes that are carrying the virus.
September is typically the peak season for transmission.
"The best way to prevent West Nile Virus is to take precautions to protect yourself from mosquito bites,” said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Kaitlan Baston, "Using an insect repellant and avoiding being outdoors especially between dusk and dawn when mosquitos are especially active are some of the steps residents can take to stay safe from mosquito-borne illnesses."
When to call a doctor
The Department of health confirms eight human infections so far this year. Seven of the infected individuals reported developing neurological illness, and six cases required hospitalization.
Most who have been bitten by an infected mosquito will develop mild or no symptoms.
However, about one in 150 people will develop a serious, potentially fatal neurological illness.
People over 50 years of age and people with weak immune systems are at greater risk of developing severe illness.
If you develop symptoms such as severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, or paralysis, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
How to protect yourself
The New Jersey Department of Health recommends the following to protect against mosquito borne diseases:
✅ Wear EPA-registered insect repellant.
✅ Avoid being outdoors during dawn and dusk when mosquitos are most active.
✅ Wear long sleeves and long pants.
✅ Cover crib, stroller and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
✅ Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outside and use air conditioning when possible or ensure you have well-fitted screens.
In addition to the above steps, residents, business owners, and contractors should empty outdoor standing water at least weekly to stop mosquito breeding. Areas that may need attention include flowerpots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, clogged rain gutters, plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows, and any containers or trash that may be difficult to see such as under bushes, homes, or around building exteriors.