Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health, said, “With the arrival of spring, and certainly a wet one, residents need to take the time and steps to protect themselves and their families against West Nile Virus (WNV) infection. All of the rain we have had provides a perfect environment for mosquitoes and possibly the spread of WNV.”
“WNV is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito that has fed on an infected bird. WNV is not directly transmitted from birds to humans,” said Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) Public Health Coordinator, “With the wet weather we have had, a perfect environment has been established for mosquito breeding and the spread of WNV. “
Regenye added, “County residents can help the Ocean County Health Department control WNV by reporting dead birds they find on their property to the department at 732-341-9700, ext. 7502 or toll free at 800-342-9738, ext. 7502.”
“In addition,” said Ocean County Freeholder John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety, “the Ocean County Mosquito Commission works very closely with the Health Department identifying areas with high concentrations of mosquitoes and eliminating the problem.”
“Most human WNV infections produce no symptoms or mild to moderate symptoms that include fever, headache and body aches and may be accompanied by a skin rash and swollen lymph glands,” said Jennifer Crawford, OCHD Supervisor of Communicable Disease. “About one in 150 persons, or less than 1 percent of those infected with West Nile virus will develop a more severe form of the disease. Symptoms of more serious illness include severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. The elderly or those with a compromised immune system are at higher risk of more severe disease.”
Leslie Terjesen, OCHD Public Information Officer, said, “It is important to remove or clean anything on your property that can collect rain or sprinkler water – such as clogged gutters, flower pots, bottle caps or old car tires. If you have a birdbath in your yard, remember to change the water at least once a week. Check and repair your window and door screens, as needed.”
Terjesen continued, “Homeowners can help curb the mosquito population by keeping their lawns and bushes trimmed, changing the water in and covering kiddie wading pools, removing old tires and other yard debris that can store standing water. If you have a swing made out of a tire, make sure you drill a hole large enough in the bottom to drain out rain water.”
As WNV is mostly transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, on-going elimination of mosquito breeding is the key to prevention of WNV transmission. Residents’ participation in the elimination of standing water around the home is critically important.
In addition to eliminating standing water around the home, residents should take the following precautions:
•Limit outdoor activities at dawn and dusk, when possible.
•Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever outdoors, weather permitting.
•Make sure screen doors and windows are in good condition.
•When going outside, use an insect repellent containing DEET on skin or clothing, or a repellent containing permethrin on clothing. DO NOT use repellants on children less than 3 years old. ALWAYS USE REPELLANTS ACCORDING TO THE DIRECTIONS ON THE LABEL.