Dead bird in Sayreville had West Nile virus Health officials warn residents to take precautions

By takesha pettus

Dead bird in Sayreville had West Nile virus
Health officials warn
residents to take

SAYREVILLE — Borough residents are being warned to take precautions after the state confirmed a dead crow found in the borough 10 days ago was infected with the West Nile virus.

Warning letters and cable channel advisories are being circulated to borough residents regarding the virus. Also, borough employees are being given insect repellent to aid in the precautionary efforts.

According to David Papi, deputy director for the Middlesex County Public Health Department, the state Department of Health confirmed that testing done on a crow concluded the bird died from the mosquito-borne virus.

The borough and county health department kept the bird’s discovery under wraps until Monday when tests results came back positive.

In a press release issued on Monday, Mayor Kennedy O’Brien said the borough was taking the discovery seriously and that every precaution was being taken to prevent infection.

Humans and animals contract West Nile Virus from mosquitoes.

According to the Middlesex County Public Health Department, mosquitoes get infected with the virus by feeding on infected birds. Some birds may die from the virus, but are not known to transfer the disease to humans.

Symptoms of the West Nile virus may include fever, headache, body aches, skin rashes and swollen lymph glands.

More severe symptoms may also include meningitis, encephalitis, coma and death.

There is no specific treatment for the virus and no vaccine. Most people who contract the illness recover within two weeks. In severe cases, however, hospitalization may be necessary.

In order to try and stop the spread of the virus, the county health department will be treating stagnant water sources throughout the borough, such as Kennedy Park on Washington Road.

The county could use several prevention methods but two in particular, Papi said, will likely be used: carbon dioxide traps and water treatment pellets dropped from helicopters into water sources.

"One bird does not mean we should come into a town spraying insecticides," Papi said.

Papi said the treatment will be very controlled so residents need not worry.

Unlike New York, which conducts periodic spraying throughout the streets in addition to treating water sources, Papi said Sayreville will only treat stagnant water sources.

"No other areas will be done," Papi added.

Residents should also do everything possible to try and help in prevention efforts.

According to recommendations made by the Middlesex County Mosquito Extermination Commission and the Middlesex County Public Health Department, residents should use several precautionary methods of protection.

It is suggested that residents eliminate standing water on their property, clean clogged roof gutters, empty plastic swimming pools and drain swimming pool covers, change the water in bird baths, flush sump pumps weekly, check or repair screen doors, stay indoors during dawn, dusk and early evening when mosquitoes are active, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks when outdoors, avoid areas with heavy bushes and trees, apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin, following the manufacturers instructions carefully. Do not spray insect repellent on children less than 3 years old.

In addition, the county has continued to test sentinel chickens in the borough. Blood samples are taken from the chickens every two weeks and so far they have tested negative for the virus, Papi said.

Finally, a program is being developed that will survey hospitals weekly in Middlesex and other counties throughout the state to check for the virus in humans.

The county has been taking samples since March, Papi said.

Mosquito season runs from mid-March until the end of October.

Residents are being advised to call the local health department if they discover dead birds in their neighborhood.