Mosquito hype? Don’t bite

By Karen Zautyk

There were news reports  last week that mosquitoes carrying the potentially deadly West  Nile virus have been found in Kearny.
Yes, they have.
But there is no need to panic.
West Nile-carrying mosquitoes have been seasonal Kearny residents every year since 1999,  according Dr, Greg Williams, superintendent of the Mosquito Control Unit of  the Hudson Regional Health Commission (HRHC).
The most recent bunches of little biters were found in West Hudson Park, at Gunnell Oval and off Central Ave. in South Kearny.  And they’ve certainly been there before.
How were they found? County Mosquito Control workers regularly set and check mosquito traps throughout the county, Williams told The Observer. These are monitored and moved around and, if/when  a problem area is identified, reduction/elimination procedures are employed.
As explained on the HRHC website, the traps are used to determine the identity and abundance of the mosquito species that are present. That information, in turn, “is used to determine when adult control is necessary.”
Other traps are used to collect female mosquitoes “that have already taken a blood meal.”  These are identified and sent to the State Department of Health to be screened.
Larval surveillance is also regularly  conducted at 250 Hudson County sites, and larvicide is applied when “wigglers” are discovered.
In response to the West Nile findings, targeted mosquito-control  efforts were launched last week, after Hurricane Irene departed..
On Wednesday, said Williams, “Our crews were working in the Kearny Marsh behind Gunnell Oval, on the marsh east of the Turnpike, and at the ditches around the old landfills (in South Kearny).”
Basically, they were treating all large bodies of water, he said.
Work had been planned over a two-day period, between the hours of 4 and 7 a.m.
As noted on the website, all Hudson County parks are closed from 10:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. “We purposely spray the parks when they are closed to avoid pedestrian traffic.  If you see us spraying the parks during these times, you do not belong in the park.”
Williams said that, for 2011, West Nile levels are 20%-30% below the average. “There have been no human cases in Hudson County for this year,” he added.
To avoid potentially becoming one, you are advised to stay away from skeeter-prone areas at dawn and dusk.
When you are outdoors, wear EPA-approved repellant and protective clothing – long sleeves, socks,  and slacks, not shorts.
To help eradicate mosquitoes on or around your own property, remove standing water, not only puddles, but in containers, tree holes, on tarps, etc. This is especially crucial now, considering all the storm waters still lurking about.
For more information on mosquito control, bite prevention and the county unit itself — including maps of the Kearny areas to be treated – visit Maps are updated regularly.
You can also call the control unit offices at 201-223-1133.

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