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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
7/10/02
02/51

Contact: Patricia Cabrera
(609) 292-9289

DEP AWARDS NINE COUNTIES A TOTAL OF $2.4 MILLION TO CLEANUP SCRAP TIRE PILES
Part of Statewide Effort to Control West Nile Virus

(02/51) MONROE TOWNSHIP – In an effort to help prevent the spread of the West Nile virus, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today hosted an event in Monroe Township, Gloucester County to remind the public to clear their properties of any standing waters, which are prime breeding sites for mosquitos that may carry the virus. To further help in this effort, Commissioner Campbell announced that DEP is awarding grants totaling $2.4 million to nine counties to help them cleanup scrap tire piles, another ideal site where mosquitos can breed.

Included in the awards is $750,000 for Gloucester County to cleanup of one of the largest scrap tire piles in New Jersey – also the site of today’s event.

“One of the strongest defenses in combating the West Nile virus is reducing the number of mosquitos that can carry the virus,” said Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. “DEP is using several methods to control the mosquito population statewide. Part of that statewide effort is to assist our partners in county government by awarding $2.4 million to help clear scrap tire piles in their communities.”

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease that can cause encephalitis, an infection that causes inflammation of the brain. People can become infected with the virus after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Discarded tires when allowed to accumulate even minimal amounts of water have the potential of becoming breeding grounds for mosquitos. During the course of one season, April through October, thousands of mosquitos can be bred from just one tire.

The purpose of the nine grants issued under the Scrap Tire Pile Remediation Fund is to help clean up some of the largest collections of discarded tire pile sites in New Jersey. In addition to Gloucester, the other eight grant awards went to: Salem County for $721,000; Hunterdon County for $300,000; Burlington County for $121,500; Somerset County for $30,000; Morris County for $30,000; Cape May County for $30,000; Bergen County for $30,000; and, Atlantic County for $250,000.

This year no positive human cases have been identified, however the virus has been detected in birds and mosquitos. To help control the spread of the virus, DEP’s nationally recognized Mosquito Control Program has developed a series of cost-effective and environmentally sound methods to reduce mosquito populations. These include: a bio- control program to stock freshwater areas around the state with mosquito larvae-eating fish, Gambusia affinis; a wetlands management program using Open Marsh Water Management strategies and Best Management Practices for Mosquito Control on Freshwater Wetlands, which eliminate breeding habitat and improve the wetland ecology at the same time; and, a state equipment program that applies approved mosquito specific insecticides.

"Twelve New Jersey residents contracted the West Nile virus in 2001. I urge the public to take precautions to protect themselves from the virus. Dispose of old tires, empty buckets and kiddy pools and take steps to prevent insect bites," said Commissioner Campbell.

To protect themselves from mosquito bites, people should make sure their window and door screenings are in good repair. People should also wear protective clothing such as long-sleeve shirts and pants when going outside at times when mosquitos are most likely to bite - dawn or dusk. Mosquito repellents can be very effective and should be applied to clothing or skin.

New Jersey’s West Nile virus and mosquito control efforts are done through an interagency collaboration with the departments of Agriculture, Health and Senior Services and Rutgers University. All of the coordinated efforts of the state’s mosquito surveillance program are funded through the DEP’s State Mosquito Control Commission. The Department of Health and Senior Services monitors and tests birds since it is typically from birds that mosquitos contract and spread this virus. The Department of Agriculture performs horse surveillance and testing.

Each county is required to have plans and measures for the surveillance and control of mosquitos.

 

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