Be safe, be aware against West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus (WNV) is a mosquito borne virus that can cause serious illness in some people. WNV was first recognized in the West Nile district of Uganda in 1937, and there have been periodic outbreaks of illness in Africa and Europe since then.
WNV is transmitted to humans through a bite from an infected mosquito. The virus is NOT transmitted from person to person. It is NOT transmitted from birds or other infected animals to humans.
The Rahway Division of Health reminds residents to actively use anti-mosquito precautions as summer winds down. West Nile Virus has been identified in mosquito and dead crows in and around Rahway. Use the following precautions to keep you and your family safe:
- Mosquitoes breed in standing water, even in very small areas such as flowerpots or the pet food dishes. Eliminate stagnant water around the home in discarded tires, blocked gutters, unclean birdbaths, poorly maintained pools, and any type of receptacle with decaying organic matter.
- Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk. Limit outdoor activities at dawn, dusk and in the early evening, when possible.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever you are outdoors.
- Make sure screen doors and windows are in good condition.
- Place mosquito netting over infant carriers when you are outdoors with infants.
- When outside, apply insect repellant to exposed skin. Always use an EPA-approved repellent according to the directions on the product label.
- Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. Do not apply repellents containing permethrin directly to exposed skin. Do not apply clothing repellent to skin under your clothing.
- Maintain your swimming pools. Empty or cover swimming pools when not in use.
- Keep birdbaths clean. Change the water at least once a week.
- Report dead crows to Rahway Division of Health (732) 827-2085.
Many persons bitten by an infected mosquito will not become infected at all. Of those that do become infected, the vast majority will have no symptoms or will experience only a mild illness that may include headache, muscle aches, rash, swollen lymph nodes and fever. In severe cases, symptoms can include confusion, disorientation, seizures, brain swelling and severe muscle weakness or paralysis. Onset of symptoms is usually between 5-15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. A person experiencing symptoms such as high fever, confusion, muscle weakness, or severe headaches should see a doctor immediately.
Since far less than 1 percent of mosquitoes carry the virus, and since less than 1 percent of persons infected with WNV develop severe illness, the chances of developing severe illness from any one mosquito bite are very, very small. People who get WNV, even those who have no symptoms, are probably immune from any future WNV infection.
WNV was first reported in the Western Hemisphere in New York City in 1999 and it has been spreading throughout the United States and Canada since.
Year 2002 saw a drastic increase in the number of human cases nationwide with over 4100 cases reported. Increased virus activity was reported in horses, birds and over 125 other types of animals. The geographic area affected by the virus increased substantially in 2002 and now has been documented in 44 of the continental states.
For more information on West Nile Virus consult the New Jersey State Department of Health and Senior Services.