The West Nile Virus has appeared early in New Jersey this year. A Hunterdon County man who was confirmed infected with the virus became ill on June 21. The NJ Department of Health confirmed this as the earliest recorded instance of West Nile in New Jersey history. There’s no way to know if an early appearance indicates a more severe season but it does does remind us now is the time to take precautions.
West Nile Virus Background
Originally identified in Africa, West Nile was first confirmed in America in 1999. Since then it has been reported in every state. Humans get infected when bit by an infected mosquito. The mosquitoes generally get infected by feeding on infected birds.
What Happens To Those Who Are Infected?
There is a wide range of outcomes for those infected with West Nile. Some are lucky enough to have no symptoms. 1 in 5 people will develop flu-like symptoms which can include vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue/weakness lasting for weeks to months. 1 in 150 infected individuals will develop a serious infection like encephalitis or meningitis, which can cause death or permanent nervous system damage.
Similar to other infestations, proper prevention starts with denying a suitable habitat to thrive. For mosquitoes this means standing water. Home and business owners should be aware of anywhere on their property that mosquitoes could thrive in standing water such as old tires, buckets, pools, bird baths etc. These should be emptied of water or circulated/flush frequently.
State and local governments take measures to limit mosquito expansion. Don’t hesitate to let them know about problem areas the may not be aware of such as abandoned properties with standing water.
Additionally, consider an EPA-approved insect repellent along with clothing choices that limit the available skin for mosquitoes to land and transmit West Nile Virus.
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