PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
September 15, 2023

Kaitlan Baston, MD, MSc, DFASAM
Acting Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

New Jersey Departments of Health and Environmental Protection Urge Residents to Take Precautions Against West Nile Virus

One Death Attributed to Virus Reported in New Jersey 

TRENTON – New Jersey is reporting eight cases and unfortunately one death associated with West Nile Virus (WNV) this season. The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) urge residents to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito-borne diseases and to reduce mosquito populations on their properties.

WNV is a disease that people can acquire through the bite of a mosquito that has fed on an infected bird. WNV is not directly transmitted from birds to humans. August and September are when most WNV cases are reported in the state historically.

“The best way to prevent West Nile Virus is to take precautions to protect yourself from mosquito bites,” said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Kaitlan Baston. “Using an insect repellant and avoiding being outdoors especially between dusk and dawn when mosquitos are especially active are some of the steps residents can take to stay safe from mosquito-borne illnesses. Speak with a health care provider if you are concerned about WNV, particularly if you are experiencing neurological symptoms such as severe headache, confusion, seizures, weakness, and/or high fevers.”

Based on ongoing surveillance, current WNV activity in mosquitoes is also high, with significantly more WNV-positive mosquito pools identified this year compared to five-year averages.

“With continued rainfall and warm weather, we can expect the mosquito season and the potential for disease transmission to extend well into the fall,” said New Jersey Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette. “Managing our mosquito population, through our mosquito control agencies and individual efforts to eliminate suitable habitats for the insects, plays an important role in protecting public health. Get rid of standing water in your yard and cover or turn over any empty containers that can hold water for several days.”

For many people, the virus causes asymptomatic infection or a mild to moderate febrile illness. About one in 150 persons will develop a serious, sometimes fatal neurological illness, with symptoms such as severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. People over 50 years of age and people with weak immune systems are at greater risk of developing severe illness.

To date, seven of the eight WNV cases reported in New Jersey have experienced neurological illness, and six cases have been hospitalized. Four WNV cases have been reported in Bergen County, including one death; three cases in Middlesex County; and one case in Camden County.

In a typical year, there are about eight WNV infections reported. There were 20 WNV cases and four deaths reported in 2022.  

To protect against mosquito borne diseases, residents should:

  • Wear EPA-registered insect repellant.
  • Avoid being outdoors during dawn and dusk when mosquitos are most active.
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants.
  • Cover crib, stroller and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
  • Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outside and use air conditioning when possible or ensure you have well-fitted screens.

Residents, business owners, and contractors can take steps to reduce mosquito populations on their properties by emptying or changing outdoor standing water at least weekly to stop mosquito breeding. Areas that may need attention include flowerpots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, clogged rain gutters, plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows, and any containers or trash that may be difficult to see such as under bushes, homes, or around building exteriors.

NJDOH can assist health care providers with testing for WNV and other arboviruses, including Powassan and Eastern equine encephalitis. Testing information is available at www.nj.gov/health/cd/topics/vectorborne.shtml.

New Jersey's WNV surveillance, control, and prevention activities involve the coordinated efforts of a number of federal, state, and local agencies including: NJDOH, NJDEP, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the State Mosquito Control Commission, and local health and mosquito control agencies.

An interactive vector-borne disease dashboard and weekly summary reports are posted online at https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/statistics/arboviral-stats/

For more information on WNV, visit NJDOH’s West Nile webpage and NJDEP’s mosquito webpage

Follow the New Jersey Department of Health on X (formerly Twitter) @njdeptofhealth, Facebook /njdeptofhealth, Instagram @njdeptofhealth, Threads @NJDeptofHealth, and LinkedIn /company/njdeptofhealth.

Last Reviewed: 9/15/2023