BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Berkeley Heights township and public health officials again encourage residents to take strong precautions against mosquitoes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New Jersey Department of Health confirmed a human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in Union County. 

The mosquito-borne virus was recently detected in a mosquito trap within Berkeley Heights Township. 

Working closely with Union County, Berkeley Heights township officials have deployed protective measures by aggressively spraying parks, fields, exterior of schools and wooded areas, particularly near the Warren Township border. Spraying will continue Thursday night. The Union County Bureau of Mosquito Control will continue to monitor the mosquito test pods and spray accordingly. 

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Meanwhile, residents should take protective measures to protect themselves and their families against mosquitoes by:

  • Use repellent: When outdoors, use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus on exposed skin and/or clothing. The repellent/insecticide permethrin can be used on clothing to protect through several washes. Always follow package directions. Insect repellent should not be used on children less than 2 months old and oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children less than 3 years
  • Wear protective clothing: Wear long sleeves/pants when weather permits
  • Install and repair screens: Have secure, intact screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out and use air conditioning if you have it  

Mosquitoes can lay eggs even in small amounts of standing water. You and your family can take the following steps to limit mosquitoes on your property and keep them from laying eggs near you: 

  • Empty standing water from flower pots, buckets, barrels, and tires. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Empty children’s wading pools and wheelbarrows and store on their side after use.
  • Dispose of water-holding containers that have accumulated on your property, especially discarded tires
  • Drill holes in the bottom and elevate recycling containers that are left outdoors
  • Clean up any trash or leaves that may be around your home or in rain gutters at least once a year
  • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. Mosquitoes can even breed in the water that collects on pool covers
  • Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property

This July, the Department of Health launched its Fight the Bite NJ awareness campaign to continue to promote awareness and provide education throughout the state on how to avoid mosquito-borne illness. Please visit that website for more preventative measures you can take to protect against mosquito bites.

EEE virus is a rare cause of brain infections (encephalitis). Only a few cases are reported in the United States each year. Most occur in eastern or Gulf Coast states. Approximately 30% of people with EEE die and many survivors have ongoing neurologic problems. EEE is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Most persons infected with EEE have no apparent illness. Transmission to humans requires mosquito species capable of creating a “bridge” between infected birds and uninfected mammals. Horses are susceptible to EEEV infection and some cases are fatal. EEEV infections in horses, however, are not a significant risk factor for human infection because horses (like humans) are considered to be “dead-end” hosts for the virus (i.e., the concentration of virus in their bloodstreams is usually insufficient to infect mosquitoes).

A “dead-end” host means the virus doesn’t spread from animal to animal, human to human, animal to human, or vice versa. 

Please read the press release from the New Jersey Department of Health, released Thursday afternoon, confirming the Union County case.