The Middlesex County Mosquito Extermination Commission, in conjunction with the Middlesex County Department of Public Safety and Health’s Office of Health Services and its Environmental Health Division, are taking preventive actions to protect residents from the Zika virus.
The Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are aggressive daytime biters but they can also bite at night, according to a statement prepared by county officials. Mosquitoes are not active during the winter months in New Jersey.
Locally transmitted cases of Zika by mosquitoes have not been identified in the United States, although the potential for local transmission exists, as Aedes mosquitoes are present in many states, according to officials.
Therefore, the county is trying to be proactive. The Department of Public Safety will continue to promote community health education and recycling programs. Department staff will provide information to partners, businesses and other stakeholders about the importance of reducing locations where mosquitoes can breed.
Additionally, fact sheets and posters will be made available and distributed to municipalities within the county.
“Middlesex County officials are committed to protecting the health and safety of all of our residents through a variety of existing services, community partnerships and outreach programs. Prevention is a key element to keeping our citizens safe. That is why we have begun our efforts now,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios said.
Outbreaks of Zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and most recently in the Americas. The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes (conjunctivitis). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika.
“It is important to educate all who live and work here about this disease so that everyone can take the proper precautions to prevent the transmission of the disease, prevent mosquito bites and prevent mosquito breeding sources,” said Freeholder H. James Polos, chairman of the Public Safety and Health Committee.
Water collects in open-topped recycling and garbage bins, upside down garbage can lids, bird feeders, on top of pool covers, in old tires and other areas around the house or building. Standing water serves as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
“Protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites by using an Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent containing DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, picaridin, or IR 3535. You and your neighbors can help us in our mission to control the mosquito population by making every possible effort to eliminate sources of standing water around your home or place of business,” said Dr. Deepak Matadha, superintendent of the Middlesex County Mosquito Commission.
For more information on the Zika virus, visit www.co.middlesex.nj.us and search “Zika.” The site includes fact sheets, posters, information for travelers, information for pregnant women, mosquito bite prevention, reducing standing water and links to other state and federal web sites.
Those who have a mosquito problem or who need additional information should call the Middlesex County Mosquito Extermination Commission at 732-549-0665.
For more information on the global effects of Zika, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html.