The 2013 mosquito season saw a decrease in the reported number of human cases of West Nile virus in New Jersey from the previous year.
Twelve people in the state were found to be infected with the virus and there were two fatalities. Even though the number of human cases was well below the 48 cases reported in 2012, it was still more than might have been expected, especially following an outbreak year.
More troubling is that among the 12 human cases, at least 75 percent developed into the more serious and life-threatening neuro-invasive form of the infection. An increase in the number of neuro-invasive cases was also evident in 2012.
This trend may indicate the presence of a more efficient mosquito host or the introduction of a more virulent strain of the virus. Fortunately no human cases were reported in 2013 in Passaic County. We believe our redoubled efforts to educate the public in the importance of do-it-yourself mosquito control techniques played a significant role.
There was certainly no lack of West Nile virus in the county's mosquito populations, however. In fact West Nile virus was detected in 8 percent of the mosquito pools (samples grouped by species) submitted for testing. These results underscore the absolute necessity for property owners to actively participate in mosquito control in their neighborhoods throughout each and every mosquito season.
At a minimum every resident and business owner must ensure that their properties are free from any containers, puddles, pools, ponds, tarps, clogged drains or gutters, toys, birdbaths, etc. that are capable of holding water for more than two or three days, and which are not maintained, aerated, or treated in some way, or stocked with fish. Failing to do so may literally result in the illness or death of someone nearby. During dry times especially, the only reproductive habitat mosquitoes may find in urban and suburban neigborhoods may be in your backyard.
For this reason we also encourage residents to report any abandoned or neglected swimming pools near you which can be particularly productive and dangerous mosquito habitat. Our agency enjoys a close partnership with municipal health departments and other municipal authorities, designed to quickly identify and eliminate potential mosquito habitat through inspection, public education, cooperation, and if necessary, the enforcement of public health statutes.
Your participation has another very real benefit: the reduction of pesticides needed to control these dangerous pests. So please, care for your neighbors and your environment. The bottom line is that mosquitoes need water to reproduce. No water means no mosquitoes. It's that simple.
Eric Green, Superintendent
Passaic County Mosquito Control
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