Superstorm Sandy may be responsible for more problems.
New Jersey health officials say there’s the potential for an increase in West Nile virus this year.
Sandy has increased the number of places with standing water where the virus-carrying mosquitoes can breed, said Dr. Tina Tan, the state epidemiologist.
“It’s hard to predict what our season is going to be like or how many people might get ill from West Nile virus,” Tan said, “so we therefore continue to ask people to take protective measures themselves to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”
Officials urge residents to regularly empty water from flower pots, birdbaths, buckets and swimming-pool covers.
Meanwhile, mosquito-control crews are having trouble getting to some areas because of the debris in marshes and coastal forests.
“Every tree that got knocked over left behind it a void where the ball of roots pulled the earth out of the ground, and those fill with water as well and create a significant body of water in which mosquitoes can develop,” said Bob Kent, administrator of the state office of mosquito control.
Last year, New Jersey had 48 human cases of West Nile virus, and six of them resulted in death.
While human cases of West Nile typically don’t occur until August, health officials are now testing dead birds for the disease.