MEDIA CONTACT:  Julie Willmot
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TRENTON, N.J. - Mercer County residents are at greater risk for West Nile virus through September because of recent high infection rates in sample populations of mosquitoes.

Mercer County Mosquito Control has noted an increase in West Nile virus activity in Mercer County this season. Mosquitoes collected weekly by the agency are sent to the New Jersey Department of Health to be tested for West Nile virus. The results are then used to track and respond with control measures to the virus in Mercer County.

“This year we are seeing many more mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus than usual,” said Ary Farajollahi, the entomologist for Mercer County. “Infection rates in the mosquito populations are higher than we have seen in recent years, and this year the infection rate is more than 10 times higher than last year.”

This means if a person is bitten by a mosquito, there is a greater chance that it will be carrying West Nile virus. Mercer County Mosquito Control has increased its control efforts in areas where the infected mosquitoes are found. In addition, they have been applying mosquito adulticides to kill the infected mosquitoes before they can transmit the virus.

While there have not been any human cases of West Nile in Mercer County this year, residents are urged to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Stay indoors during peak mosquito hours, especially at dusk and dawn, wear long sleeves and pants to cover exposed skin, use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus when outside, and drain all standing water around your home to eliminate mosquito habitat.