Mosquitos Spreading Brain-Infecting Virus In New Jersey

Science | By Caleb Schwartz | September 4, 2019

There isn't a single person in the entire world who likes mosquitos. They can be a terrible nuisance whether they are invading your backyard barbeque, ruining your vacation in a tropical paradise, or there is just one annoying little bugger buzzing around in your room, threatening to bite you.

At their best, mosquitos bite humans leaving an itchy rash that you just can't help but scratch until it leaves a scar. At their worst, mosquitoes transmit horrible diseases and viruses, like the Zika virus that spread alarmingly a couple of years ago. They aren't just a nuisance, they are dangerous.

As if you didn't have enough reason to worry about mosquitoes, there is a new threat they pose that is striking fear across New Jersey. Mosquitoes seem to be spreading a brain-infecting virus across New Jersey. Get out your bug spray and mosquito nets as we find out the cause of this virus.

Eastern equine encephalitis in New Jersey

There is good news and bad news in New Jersey concerning everyone's least favorite bug, the mosquito. In Warren County, New Jersey, there has never been a single mosquito with the Eastern equine encephalitis virus. That has all changed now though. On August 21st a sample from Meadow Breeze Park was collected which tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis, which is a fatal virus that causes brain-infections. With it being mosquito season, that is an alarming find for the local mosquito commission.

West Nile virus was also found in the same sample, although that is the fourth sample they've found this year. The mosquito commission noted that the Eastern equine encephalitis is incredibly rare in northern New Jersey. The mosquito commission plans on doing a treatment to kill mosquitoes and trap others for further testing.

A Rare but Deadly Infection

Luckily there has only been one case of a human carrying Eastern equine encephalitis in that county. The virus has popped up in 11 different counties, marking the highest numbers they've seen in seven years. Mosquito bites are what spreads the virus, and although it is rare for humans to be infected, it is an incredibly serious infection. THere was only one human case in the last 9 years, but there is a 30% chance of death when infected, and those affected can be left with neurological disorders.

The Mosquito commission released a Facebook post saying, "A sample of mosquitoes from Washington Township has tested positive for both West Nile virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). The sample was collected from Meadow Breeze Park on August 21, 2019. This is the first mosquito sample ever collected that tested positive for EEE. This is a very active year for EEE in NJ and in the Atlantic Coastal states. Residents should be encouraged to wear repellant. The County Mosquito Control Commission is planning to spray for adult mosquitoes in that area Friday night."

Don't Get Bit

There are two types of infections. One includes chills, fever, and joint or muscle pain. The other type of infection is much more serious because it affects the brain. The symptoms include fever, irritability, drowsiness, anorexia, vomiting, blue skin, and even coma. The CDC gives very simple advice for the best way to combat this infection, "The most effective way to prevent infection from ­­­Eastern equine encephalitis virus is to prevent mosquito bites."

Insect repellents that include natural ingredients like oil of lemon eucalyptus can help keep them at bay, as well as chemical solutions like DEET and IR3535. We can all do our part by making sure that we get rid of any stagnant bodies of water. A stagnant swimming pool can be a breeding ground for millions of mosquitos which could affect a five mile radius.



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