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With everything going on with COVID-19, many people have forgotten about West Nile Virus. September is peak season for the mosquito-borne illness in New Jersey and can last right up until the first hard frost, which is usually in November.

Dr. Christina Tan, the state epidemiologist, said while West Nile Virus can certainly appear during the summer months, it really kicks into high gear in September. There have already been two cases of the virus so far this season: a man in his 40s from Essex County and a man in his 70s in Monmouth County. She said last year there were eight cases of West Nile Virus in the Garden State.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus vary from person to person. Some may never have symptoms. Others may experience headaches, fever, neck stiffness and other body aches. Other more serious symptoms such as disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions and paralysis may require hospitalization.

Tan said that while anybody can get West Nile Virus by being exposed to infected mosquitoes, it's people aged 50 and older and those with compromised immune systems or other underlying medical conditions who are most at risk for more serious illnesses.

She said the best way to avoid getting West Nile Virus is to avoid getting bitten all together. That's why it's important to wear a bug repellent registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. Avoid being outside during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. Tan also suggested wearing long pants and long sleeves while outside.

Cover cribs, baby strollers and carriages with mosquito netting.

Tan also said to be aware of areas around the home. Empty things like bird baths, clogged rain gutters and baby pools of standing water as they can be prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Inside the home, repair holes in any window or door screens and use the air conditioning as much as possible as opposed to keeping windows open for fresh air.

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