Mosquito control and Zika virus main topic of discussion

PHOTO:  Freeholder John P. Curley (left) meets with Colts Neck Health Officer Thomas Frank discussing the important information presented and discussed at the event.

FREEHOLD, NJ – More than 50 mayors, code enforcement officials, nurses and directors of municipal public works departments joined the Monmouth County Health Department and the County’s Mosquito Control Division at Thursday’s 2106 Health Forum. The main topics of conversation centered on the importance of mosquito control and lead poisoning.

“The representation from a broad range of local government officials, schools and the public health community shows how much interest there is in sharing best practices and exchanging information among municipalities and County government,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Serena DiMaso. “Monmouth County residents are concerned about these diseases spread by mosquitoes and lead poisoning. It is my hope that the information provided and shared in the productive discussion thereafter will be in turn be distributed among our schools, families and community groups

“As parents, we are especially concerned with obtaining accurate information and avoiding misinformation,” said DiMaso, who is the freeholder representative on the County’s Mosquito Control Division. “Although the Zika virus is not in Monmouth County yet, it is coming. It wasn't in Grenada last month, but it is now, and my daughter goes to school there.

“Lead poisoning is another serious health concern... It can be found in schools, houses and dilapidated structures,” explained DiMaso. “Education on a disease that knows no age limit benefits everyone. Monmouth County’s Board of Health will come to any kind of community gathering or by appointment and test people for lead as a precaution.”

“There were many valuable takeaways from this forum that need to be shared with the public,”

commented Freeholder John P. Curley, who is liaison to the Board of Health. “While our current focus is on mosquitoes transmitting the Zika virus, we must also be aware that some carry the West Nile Virus. The Monmouth County Mosquito Control Division is an excellent resource to answer questions or concerns about this insect. Information on how to eliminate standing water, which is a primary breeding ground for mosquitoes, is available at https://co.monmouth.nj.us/page.aspx?ID=177.

“Advice on dealing with lead contamination and reducing exposure to it was most informative,” continued Curley. “We may be focused on the Zika virus, but there are other health hazards we also need to protect ourselves against. Those most vulnerable to lead poisoning are people with lead pipes in their water system, and soft or acidic water that sit in pipes for several hours. Abandoned homes are also susceptible to lead poisoning. The best way to reduce exposure to lead is to remove your shoes when entering a home, continue with vigorous hand hygiene and attend to paint that is peeling or chipping.”

For more information on lead poisoning, visit https://www.epa.gov/lead. Lead in drinking water usually comes from water distribution lines or household plumbing and fixtures rather than the water source. New Jersey requires lead screening of all children ages one and two years. Some states only screen children identified to be at risk for lead exposure, also known as targeted screening. New Jersey’s approach is far more protective.

Commenting on the Health Forum, Colts Neck Health Officer Thomas Frank stated, “The forum was an excellent opportunity to educate policy and decision makers. The importance of teaching the public about health, lead poisoning and mosquito control were points of emphasis. As health and code officials and elected representatives, we need to get the word out.”

For more information about the Zika virus, visit https://co.monmouth.nj.us/page.aspx?ID=1932