To The Editor:
 
The Westfield Board of Health met on Feb. 1. The board held a hearing concerning a restaurant that had three recent Conditional Satisfactory ratings, but is currently Satisfactory. The board voted unanimously to permit the restaurant to remain open. However, it will be subject to increased inspections and any additional violation of the town’s Sanitary Code during the next two years will result in a four-day closure.
 
We discussed the current outbreak of Zika virus in the Western Hemisphere. Zika virus usually causes no symptoms, but may cause birth defects and neurological disease. To date, almost all the cases diagnosed in the United States have been among travelers to high-risk areas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidelines for prevention, diagnosis and control http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html.
 
Zika virus is mainly spread by mosquitoes which are currently NOT present in our area. However, with global warming, the habitats of mosquitoes are changing and a number of other mosquito-borne diseases, such as West Nile Disease, are present.
 
 
The most important and effective preventive measure for these mosquito-borne diseases is to control mosquito populations. Each county in the state has a mosquito control agency and ours is the Union County Bureau of Mosquito Control http://ucnj.org/engineering-public-works-facilities-management/bureau-of-mosquito-control/. In addition, the Westfield Regional Health Department strictly enforces measures to minimize breeding by mosquitoes in town. For example, when the warm weather returns, property owners are required by the Sanitary Code to eliminate any places with standing water which promotes breeding by mosquitoes.
 
The CDC also issued a health alert that the influenza season has now begun and severe influenza illness among young- to middle-aged adults has been reported. IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO GET YOUR FLU VACCINE. All residents are urged to be vaccinated and can call the health department at 908-789-4070 for information on obtaining flu vaccine. Also, State law requires that children under 60 months of age who attend licensed child care or preschool must be vaccinated each year.
 
In addition, all persons with influenza-like illness should not go to work or school until they are fever-free for 24 hours without medications. Persons who have influenza-like illness and are at high risk of complications should promptly seek medical care.
 
Last year, Westfield had 31 biting incidents involving animals. Residents must license all cats and dogs through the Town Clerk and get them vaccinated against rabies, due to the presence of rabies in the county. In addition, cats should be kept indoors and dogs should be supervised when outdoors to prevent them from biting people or other animals or being bitten by a wild animal.
 
The Health Department is sponsoring health screenings with Overlook Hospital at the Overlook Downtown Center, 357 Springfield Avenue in Summit. Bone density screening will be on Monday, February 8, and cholesterol screening on Monday, February 15, both from10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for a $10 charge each. Free blood pressure and diabetes screenings will also be available. For more information and to register, please contact the Overlook Community Health Department at 1-800-247-9580.
 
Information about all of the Health Department’s activities is available on its website http://www.westfieldnj.gov/health.  The complete minutes of the February 1 meeting will be posted after review and approval at our March 7 meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Municipal Building. The public is invited to attend.