SEWELL, N.J. – West Nile Virus (WNV) is a potentially serious viral illness and activity continues until late October, and awareness is the strongest weapon in avoiding the virus, according to county officials.
The Gloucester County Department of Health has reported that there has been one case of a resident with WNV reported in Gloucester County as of this date. Gloucester County Mosquito Control is currently conducting surveillance and collecting additional mosquitoes for testing. Spraying of the area has been completed.
“Awareness is the strongest weapon regarding West Nile virus activity, and our goal is to provide residents with the actions to protect themselves and their families,” Freeholder Director Robert M. Damminger said.
Freeholder Jim Jefferson said there are certain actions residents can take to protect themselves from the virus.
“Prevention of West Nile Virus starts by eliminating standing water near your home and in your yard, using mosquito repellent and avoiding being outside when the pests are,” Jefferson said.
Anyone can become infected with WNV. Symptoms of the virus are often very mild and may include fever, body aches, nausea, vomiting and a rash. About 80 percent of people who are infected show no symptoms at all. WNV is spread to humans from the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. WNV is not spread person to person.
Approximately 1 in 5 people who are infected with West Nile virus will develop symptoms, which may include fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Less than 1 percent will develop a serious neurological illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). People over 50 years of age and those with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and organ transplants, are at greater risk for serious illness.
To help prevent mosquito-borne diseases, when outdoors, apply an EPA registered insect repellent to exposed skin, like those containing DEET, picaridin or IR3535, according to the instructions on the product label. Permethrin can be used to spray clothing and gear.
Also, to avoid mosquitoes, remember they are most active between dusk and dawn, so limit time outside during those hours or wear long sleeve shirts, long pants and socks sprayed with repellent while outdoors.
Mosquitoes begin to breed in any puddle or standing water that lasts for more than four days.
Homeowners can get rid of mosquito breeding sites around the home by cleaning out gutters and drains, disposing of old tires, draining standing water from pool covers and ditches, removing all containers that hold water, maintaining pools, spas and saunas properly, changing birdbath water every several days, and making sure all windows and doors have screens and that all screens are in good condition.
There are no medications or vaccines to treat or prevent West Nile virus infection. People with milder illnesses typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks. In more severe cases, patients often need to be hospitalized to receive supportive treatment, such as intravenous fluids, pain medication, and nursing care. Anyone who has symptoms that cause concern should contact their health care provider.
Throughout the mosquito season, the Gloucester County Mosquito Control Division receives and responds to requests from county residents, schools, businesses and organizations. For questions or concerns call (856) 307-6400, Monday through Friday from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.
For more information residents can visit our website at http://www.co.gloucester.nj.us/depts/h/hedss/envhealth/wnvu.asp, or they can call 856-218-4170.
Additional information can also be found at https://www.state.nj.us/health/cd/topics/westnile.shtml and http://www.cdc.gov/westnile.