The state Department of Health has launched an awareness campaign this month to ramp up efforts to stave off mosquito-borne illness.

The campaign is called "Fight the Bite NJ," and state epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan says "we want to try to encourage people throughout the state to take steps to protect against mosquito bites."

Using social media and other platforms, the Health Department encourages New Jersey residents to remove standing water — a prime breeding source — from pool covers and old tires.

Jersey saw its first case of West Nile virus this year in June in Hunterdon county. Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal said it was the earliest that a case of West Nile has been detected in the state. The victim is now recovering.

Tan says mosquitoes are also a source of equine encephalitis.

"We can't tell just by looking at a mosquito when you're in a particular area whether some of these mosquitoes might be infected with the viruses. So you always want to take precautions," she said.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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