A mild climate in October means mosquito-borne diseases are still a concern. This year, the Department of Mosquito Control has detected both West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis in mosquito collections sampled July through September.
The areas that tested positive for West Nile virus include Tuckahoe in Upper Township, Tyler Road in Woodbine, Green Creek in Middle Township and Villas in Lower Township.
Eastern equine encephalitis has only been detected in the area of Cape May County Park North in Upper Township.
The Department of Mosquito Control will continue to collect, test and implement appropriate control measures for mosquitoes in the affected areas. There are no reported human cases of West Nile virus or eastern equine encephalitis in Cape May County this year.
“Finding West Nile virus and EEE in our area is a reminder for people to take precautions when participating in outdoor activities, particularly during the early morning hours (dawn) and the early evening hours (dusk),” Health Officer Kevin Thomas said. “Residents should wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and use mosquito repellent. People should also eliminate any standing water on their property that may serve as a habitat for mosquitoes and keep window screens in good repair.”
While there are no human vaccines for these diseases, vaccines are available for horses. Horse owners should discuss vaccination with their veterinarian.
West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis are both transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito that has acquired the virus from an infected bird. Person-to-person transmission is rare, but may occur through blood transfusions or breastfeeding.
Most West Nile virus infections are mild and persons often have no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may be mild or severe and show up three to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Mild symptoms include flu-like illness with fever, headache, body aches, nausea and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash. Severe symptoms include high fever, neck stiffness, confusion and swelling of the brain (encephalitis), which can lead to coma, convulsions or death.
Infection with eastern equine encephalitis virus can cause a range of illnesses. Most people infected with the virus have no symptoms; others get only a mild flu-like illness with fever, headache, and a sore throat. Persons experiencing these symptoms should seek medical care. In rare cases, infection of the central nervous system occurs, causing sudden fever, muscle pains and a headache of increasing severity, often followed quickly by seizures and coma. In these rare instances, about one third of patients die from the disease. Of those who survive, many suffer permanent brain damage.
More information on mosquito-borne diseases is available at CMCHealth.net. To keep informed on public health news and local events, like the Cape May County Department of Health on Facebook.