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A rare mosquito-borne virus that causes brain infections found in Warren County

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (Warren County) – Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus has been found in a mosquito sampling collected in Washington Township, according to the Warren County Mosquito Commission.

The sample was collected from Meadow Breeze Park on Aug. 21 and has tested positive for both West Nile virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

This is the first mosquito sample ever collected in Warren County that has tested positive for EEE. It’s a very active year for EEE in New Jersey and in the Atlantic Coastal states, the commission said.

The EEE virus is a rare cause of brain infections (encephalitis). Only a few cases are reported in the United States each year. Most occur in eastern or Gulf Coast states. Approximately 30% of people with EEE die and many survivors have ongoing neurologic problems.

So far this year, positive mosquito samples for the West Nile Virus have been found in Hackettstown (1), Pohatcong Township (1) and Washington Township (2), according to the commission.

This year, New Jersey has one confirmed human case of West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, according to the New Jersey Department of Health.

New Jersey only saw one human case between 2009 and 2018, according to the CDC.

The EEE virus infection can result in one of two types of illness, systemic or encephalitic (involving swelling of the brain, referred to below as EEE). The type of illness will depend on the age of the person and other host factors. It is possible that some people who become infected with EEEV may be asymptomatic (will not develop any symptoms).

The most effective way to prevent infection from ­­­Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus is to prevent mosquito bites, according to the CDC.

The CDC says to use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellentsExternal with one of these active ingredients:

  • DEET
  • Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
  • IR3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
  • Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
  • 2-undecanone

When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Mosquitoes can lay eggs even in small amounts of standing water. You can take the following steps to limit mosquitoes on your property and keep them from laying eggs near you: 

  • Empty standing water from flower pots, buckets, barrels, and tires. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Empty children’s wading pools and wheelbarrows and store on their side after use.
  • Dispose of water-holding containers that have accumulated on your property, especially discarded tires
  • Drill holes in the bottom and elevate recycling containers that are left outdoors
  • Clean up any trash or leaves that may be around your home or in rain gutters at least once a year
  • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. Mosquitoes can even breed in the water that collects on pool covers
  • Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.

For more information visit warrencountymosquito.org or call 908-453-3585 during regular business hours.

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Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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