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NJ Health Officials: 20 Residents Test Positive For Chikungunya Virus; West Nile Found In Mosquitoes

The Asian tiger mosquito is known to carry dengue virus. (File/Credit: Getty Images)

The Asian tiger mosquito is known to carry dengue virus. (File/Credit: Getty Images)

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TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey health officials on Tuesday were urging residents to protect themselves from mosquito-borne illnesses this summer.

So far, 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. The state Health Department said the residents who came down with chikungunya had returned to New Jersey from the Caribbean.

The first two U.S.-acquired cases of the chikungunya virus were reported in Florida earlier this month.

NJ Health Officials: 20 Residents Test Positive For Chikungunya Virus; West Nile Found In Mosquitoes

mo NJ Health Officials: 20 Residents Test Positive For Chikungunya Virus; West Nile Found In Mosquitoes
Peter Haskell reports

Chikungunya virus, or “chik-V,”  is not usually deadly. Symptoms include fever and joint pain, as well as muscle aches, headaches, joint swelling and rash.

“Your joints really hurt,” Rutgers entomologist Dina Fonseca told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell. “You have difficulty moving.”

Meanwhile, the health department has found West Nile virus in mosquito pools in Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Passaic and Union counties.

“Human cases of West Nile Virus typically appear from August through October, and residents should be careful to protect themselves,” said Deputy Commissioner Dr. Arturo Brito.  “Residents should take preventive measures like using repellent, wearing long sleeves, long-pants, covering doors and windows with screens and removing standing water on their property that breeds mosquitoes.”

West Nile symptoms include fever, muscle weakness, vomiting and dizziness.

So far, no one has tested positive. Two of 12 residents who tested positive for West Nile last summer died.

To reduce the risk of West Nile, officials say drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots, tires or any other containers. Also use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.

Birdbaths invite mosquito breeding, experts say. (Credit: Peter Haskell/WCBS 880)

Birdbaths invite mosquito breeding, experts say. (Credit: Peter Haskell/WCBS 880)

Pete Rendine, the chief inspector at Bergen County Mosquito Control, told Haskell that just a little water is needed for breeding.

“The Asian tiger mosquito can breed in a bottle cap of water,” he said.

New Jersey has also had 13 travel-related cases of dengue virus, which is more common in the tropics and subtropics. Symptoms  include high fever, severe headache, and joint pain.

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