West Nile Virus and the mosquitoes that carry and transmit the virus are present throughout Union County, including Westfield.  This year, we expect an increase in mosquito activity.  Fortunately, most persons infected with the virus have no symptoms, but it is best to prevent mosquito bites and infection. 

To best protect themselves and their families, residents should: 1) Use insect repellant; 2) Wear long sleeves and pants; 3) Avoid the outdoors during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active; and 4) Reduce mosquito populations.  You can call our county Bureau of Mosquito Control at 908-654-9834 for information on mosquito control activities in your neighborhood or to report mosquito problems in your yard.  More information is at www.nj.gov/dep/mosquito and www.state.nj.us/health/cd/westnile.

The seasonal influenza vaccination program has already begun.  The next flu vaccination program is in Mountainside on Thursday September 20, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in the Mountainside Municipal Building.  Residents can find detailed vaccination program information on the Westfield Regional Health Department website http://www.westfieldnj.gov/health.  There is a $10 cash fee for each participant who does not have Medicare.

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The number of dog bites has increased and 10 people have been bitten since June.  All dogs outdoors must be leashed and all dogs and cats must be licensed and vaccinated against rabies.  To pick up stray domestic animals and injured and ill wildlife, you can contact our new animal control program at Animal Control Solutions, 908-310-1452http://animalcontrolsolutions.org/.

Finally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that about 1 in 6 Americans got sick and 3,000 died from foodborne diseases in 2011.  As a result, the Board agreed to continue rigorous restaurant inspection activities to prevent foodborne disease here.

Information about all of the Department’s activities is available on its website http://www.westfieldnj.gov/health.  The complete minutes of the September 10 meeting will be posted after review and approval at our October 1 meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Westfield Municipal Building.

Lawrence D. Budnick, MD

President, Westfield Board of Health