Beware of stagnant water.
Any amount - even what a bottle cap holds - can become a breeding ground for larval mosquitoes, said Michael Romanski, Assistant Superintendent for the Ocean County Mosquito Commission
"Anything and everything that holds water," he said. "Kids' toys. A bottle cap, something that small."
Commission and Ocean County Health Department officials are urging residents to take precautions after two dead birds from the Bayville area and one in Toms River tested positive for West Nile virus.
"We're in the business of containing larval mosquitoes," Romanski said. "Going out and spraying adult mosquitoes is kind of a last-ditch effort.'
"Look around everywhere for standing water," said health department spokesperson Leslie Terjesen.
The health department has picked up 40 birds throughout Ocean County suspected of having the virus so far this year, she said.
"Right now we have seven birds pending testing," Romanski said. "Our county health department is very aggressive and very proactive about collecting the dead birds. They really are very good."
Not all mosquitoes are alike. The ones that transmit West Nile Virus belong to the Culex genus, between three to four species of mosquitoes that infect birds, Romanski said.
The commission does preventive spraying in areas of standing water, where stagnant water collects and immature stage of mosquitoes are found, he said.
"We spray for the larval mosquitoes, try to knock down any viral breeding sites," Romanski said.
Another four mosquito pools tested positive in areas where the birds were found, Terjesen said.
County residents can help the Health Department control and identify WNV by reporting dead birds that they find on their property by calling the department at 732-341-9700, ext. 7515 or toll free at 1-800-342-9738, ext. 7515.
West Nile virus infections produce no symptoms or mild to moderate symptoms, including fever, headache and body aches and sometimes a skin rash and swollen lymph glands, said Jennifer Crawford, an OCHD Communicable Disease Specialist.
"More dangerous conditions among the young or elderly and persons with chronic diseases or compromised immune systems have been reported," Crawford said.
Health department officials urge adults to use mosquito repellents, but caution against their use on young children. Babies and younger children should be safely covered up with protective clothing and hats.