Residents urged to take precautions against West Nile virus

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Second positive mosquito sample collected from Birch Grove Park

For the second time in two months, a mosquito sample from Birch Grove Park in Northfield has tested positive for West Nile virus, according to the Atlantic County Division of Public Health.

Birch Grove Park was one of three sites where samples tested positive for the virus in 2011 and again in July of this year, the first positive sample of the 2012 season. Since then another positive sample and an infected bird were collected in Galloway.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, every state has reported West Nile virus in mosquitoes, birds or humans this year with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii. The 2,636 cases reported thus far in 2012 is the highest number of West Nile virus disease cases reported to CDC through the second week in September since 2003. Two-thirds of the cases have been reported from six states (Texas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Mississippi, Michigan, and Oklahoma) and 40 percent of all cases have been reported from Texas.

The first 2012 West Nile virus-related death in New Jersey was reported last week. A 77-year old Burlington County man died in his home about two weeks after he developed fever, weakness, and respiratory illness that eventually led to his being hospitalized.

West Nile virus can be transmitted to birds, animals and humans from infected mosquitoes. Areas with standing water, particularly in warm weather, provide ideal conditions for mosquitoes to breed. Bites from infected mosquitoes can result in illnesses which range from mild flu-like conditions (West Nile fever) to severe and sometimes life-threatening diseases requiring hospitalization (West Nile encephalitis or meningitis). If you have symptoms of severe illness, seek immediate medical assistance.

Health officials encourage residents to prevent the spread of West Nile virus by following these simple steps:

Avoid mosquito bites by using an insect repellent whenever going outdoors. Repellents are an important tool to assist people in protecting themselves from mosquito-borne diseases. The Centers for Disease Control recommend the use of products containing active ingredients which have been registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use as repellents applied to skin and clothing and approved for efficacy and human safety when applied as directed. Be sure to follow product directions carefully and consult with your child’s doctor before using on children.

Rid properties of mosquito breeding grounds by draining standing water. Buckets, bird baths, flower pots and other containers can hold water and provide an ideal environment for mosquitoes. Be sure to empty these containers regularly.

Clean clogged gutters; check and repair screen doors.

Report dead birds to the Atlantic County Division of Public Health by calling (609) 645-5971. Crows are particularly vulnerable to the virus. Testing crows and other birds that have been dead for no more than 24 hours can help health officials determine if the virus is present in a particular region.

For more information about West Nile virus, visit www.aclink.org/publichealth  or call our Mosquito Control and West Nile virus hotline at (877) 643-2287. For information or assistance in draining standing water from your property, call the Atlantic County Office of Mosquito Control at (609) 645-5948.


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