Ocean County Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the OCHD, said, “The Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) has received confirmation of three additional birds testing positive for West Nile Virus (WNV) bringing this summer’s total to four. The newest birds identified were from Toms River (1) and Bayville (2). In addition, four more mosquito pools tested positive for WNV; the mosquito pools were identified in geographical areas where the birds have come from. The Ocean County Mosquito Commission reports that they are increasing their efforts to control the mosquito population, increasing surveillance activities and canvassing neighborhoods to increase awareness of backyard mosquito breeding, which is a significant contributor to the mosquito population.
Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department Public Health Coordinator, reminds residents that WNV is spread by infected mosquitoes. The mosquitoes feed on the birds, causing them to become infected with WNV. He said, “People need to make sure they are either covered up to protect themselves from mosquitoes or use mosquito repellent, making sure to read the directions if applying to children. The Ocean County Health Department and the Ocean County Mosquito Commission work closely together over the summer months to monitor the WNV situation.”
Jennifer Crawford, OCHD Communicable Disease Supervisor, stated, “The Health Department responds to calls regarding dead birds. Ocean County is extremely diligent in responding to calls and picking up birds. Statewide, 90 birds were submitted for testing for WNV and 14 tested positive for WNV. Ocean County submitted 40 of the 90 birds sent to the New Jersey Public Health and Environmental Laboratory. There are also surveillance reports on mosquito pools, which can be a collection of up to 70 mosquitoes of one species. Statewide, 3,156 mosquito pools have been submitted with 196 testing positive for WNV.”
Leslie Terjesen, OCHD Public Information Officer, said, “County residents can help the Health Department control and identify WNV by reporting dead birds that they find on their property by calling the department at 732-341-9700, ext. 7515 or toll free at 1-800-342-9738, ext. 7515.”
Crawford continued, “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. More dangerous conditions among the young or elderly and persons with chronic diseases or compromised immune systems have been reported.”
“Homeowners can help curb the mosquito population by keeping their lawns and bushes trimmed, change water frequently in bird baths and kiddie wading pools, remove old tires and other yard debris that can store standing water and keep roof gutters clean of leaves and other matter,” said Terjesen. “WNV is mainly transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito; therefore, 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.
Terjesen added that uncollected birds are not considered to be a health hazard and can be disposed of as regular trash. Residents handling any dead animal or bird should wear gloves.
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.