West Nile Virus Cases Surge in New Jersey: One Death Confirmed

Morristown Minute
Eight WNV cases have been reported, with seven patients showing neurological symptoms. One death has been recorded.Photo byMorristown Minute

Health and Environmental Protection Departments advocate for proactive measures against the virus as eight cases surface across the state.

New Jersey is confronting an uptick in West Nile Virus (WNV) cases, totaling eight this season, including one death. The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) have urged residents to take preventive steps to safeguard against mosquito-borne illness.

  • Who: NJDOH and NJDEP, along with several other local and federal agencies, are involved in monitoring and control activities.
  • What: Eight WNV cases have been reported, with seven patients showing neurological symptoms. One death has been recorded.
  • When: WNV cases are most commonly reported in August and September.
  • Where: Cases have been reported in Bergen, Middlesex, and Camden counties.
  • Why: The increase in cases poses a public health risk, prompting agencies to advocate for preventive measures.
  • How: Residents can protect themselves through various methods, including insect repellants and eliminating standing water around their properties.
According to Dr. Kaitlan Baston, Acting Health Commissioner, "The best way to prevent West Nile Virus is to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Using an insect repellant and avoiding being outdoors especially between dusk and dawn when mosquitos are especially active are some of the steps residents can take."
Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette of NJDEP adds that due to ongoing rain and warm weather, "we can expect the mosquito season and the potential for disease transmission to extend well into the fall."

Health Risks and Symptoms

While many people may be asymptomatic or experience mild illness, about one in 150 individuals could develop severe neurological illnesses like seizures, high fever, and even paralysis. Those over 50 and those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk.

Preventive Measures

  • Use EPA-registered insect repellants
  • Avoid outdoor activity between dusk and dawn
  • Wear long sleeves and pants
  • Employ mosquito netting for cribs, strollers, and baby carriers
  • Repair holes in window and door screens

Residents can also help reduce mosquito breeding areas by draining standing water from flower pots, pet dishes, and other common areas at least weekly.

For medical advice and testing for WNV and other related viruses, NJDOH can assist healthcare providers. The state also maintains an online dashboard and weekly summary reports to keep the public informed.

With last year seeing 20 WNV cases and four deaths, vigilance is critical to protect public health. Statewide efforts to control and prevent the spread of WNV are in full swing, involving multiple agencies to ensure residents remain informed and safeguarded against this serious health risk.

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