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Health Officials: Sandy Rebuilding Poses Mosquito Risk In NJ

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy is raising the risk of more mosquitoes in New Jersey.

The state Department of Health say the storm has left behind wet debris piles and depressions from fallen trees. Mosquitoes will breed in standing water.

"This season will be especially challenging because Superstorm Sandy has created new places for mosquitoes to breed," Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd said in a statement. "It's important to remove, clean or repair anything that can collect rain or sprinkler water."

Health officials say it's important to empty water from flower pots, birdbaths and swimming pool covers. The department also said remove discarded tires.

State epidemiologist Tina Tan told WCBS 880's Jim Smith you also shouldn't forget to check your rain gutters.

Warning: Mosquitoes From Sandy

"Mosquito control agencies in coastal counties are doing their best to treat sources of standing water caused by Sandy," said Claudia O'Malley, principal biologist in the DEP's Office of Mosquito Control. "However, many of these sources are in places that are hard to reach, such as marshes or coastal forests, so it is even more important that homeowners do their part to offset a potential increase in mosquito breeding."

New Jersey had the state's largest number of human cases of West Nile virus last year. Six of the 48 people in New Jersey who had the mosquito-borne illness died.

In addition to getting rid of standing water on your property, health officials say there are a number of other things you can do to protect yourself from mosquitoes.

"Make sure that you wear insect repellent and follow the manufacturer's instructions, you can wear light-colored long sleeves and long pants to prevent your skin from being exposed and getting mosquito bites," Tan told 1010 WINS.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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