As the weather begins an upward turn, signs of summer begin to appear. Among them are the unwelcome mosquitoes, known to carry West Nile Virus. Here's what you need to know to protect yourself, your family and your pets.
The disease is spread through the common mosquito after it feeds on infected birds. Humans and horses appear to be the most at risk after receiving an infected mosquito bite. Humans will experience body aches, fever, headache, swollen glands and an occasional skin rash. Severe infections will produce paralysis, convulsions, headache, neck stiffness, high fever, disorientation and possible death. You must contact your physician immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
According to the NJ Department of Agriculture, Division of Animal Health, 28 New Jersey horses developed clinical signs of infection throughout the mosquito season last year. Sadly, eight horses died from the infection. Infected horses will display abnormal use of their hindlimbs, loss of balance, depression, apprehension, muscle weakness, muscle twitching, falling down and inability to stand up. Horse owners observing any of these symptoms must contact their veterinarian immediately. Prompt treatment could mean the difference between life and death. What can you do to protect yourself, your family and your animals?
1. Drain water from pool covers.
2. Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
3. Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Keep covered.
4. Clear your yard of old tires, ceramic pots and other containers that hold water.
5. Make sure gutters drain properly.
6. Make sure that doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair those that have tears.
7. Eliminate any standing water in your yard -- these are prime breeding sites for mosquitoes.
At this time, companion animals such as dogs and cats are unlikely to be affected by West Nile Virus. However, mosquitoes also carry heartworm disease and dogs should be safeguarded against this deadly disease. Contact your veterinarian to find a preventive method that is best.
If you need a veterinarian for any of your animals, should you suspect West Nile Virus or any other health problems, contact the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association at 973-379-1100 or visit our website at www.njvma.org.
New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association