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July 29, 2014

Summer mosquitos are not just annoying -- they can make you quite sick. And there are no vaccines to prevent against infection. So the state Health Department is warning residents to take extra precautions to prevent infection by wearing insect repellent and clearing standing pools where mosquitos breed.

So far this year, New Jersey health officials have identified 20 cases of dengue and 12 cases of chikungunya, both mosquito-borne viruses.

The state’s Public Health Laboratories have found West Nile virus in mosquito pools in six counties (Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Hudson, Middlesex, and Union) although they have not identified humans with the disease. Last year, 12 residents were identified with West Nile virus. Symptoms include fever, muscle weakness, vomiting, and dizziness.

Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus that is typically found in the Caribbean. It is not transmitted person to person but if a mosquito bites a human with chikungunya, and then bites someone else, it can be transmitted that way. It is rarely fatal but the joint pain is severe and debilitating. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pain, back pain, and rash.

Dengue is unusual in the United States but is common in Puerto Rico, Latin American countries, and Southeast Asia. Symptoms include include high fever, severe headache, and joint pain.

Early treatment is important in all these illnesses both to avoid lasting effects and medical complications.

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