TRENTON-The state’s first human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) is a reminder to all residents of New Jersey that they should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
A 50 year-old man from Hamilton Township in Mercer County who developed West Nile Virus was not hospitalized and is recovering at home. He developed symptoms in July including fever, fatigue, headache, joint pain and numbness in his hands.
“West Nile virus is seen most often during New Jersey’s mosquito season in late summer and early fall,” said Acting Commissioner Dr. Tina Tan. “The department urges everyone to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites by applying insect repellant wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when possible.”
West Nile virus is a viral infection that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes get infected with the West Nile virus by feeding on infected birds. The infected mosquitoes then spread the virus by biting humans and other animals, such as horses.
Many people infected with West Nile Virus do not become ill and may not develop symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may be mild or severe and show up three to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Mild symptoms include flu-like illness with fever, headache, body aches, nausea and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Severe symptoms include high fever, neck stiffness and swelling of the brain (encephalitis) which can lead to coma, convulsions and death.
West Nile virus has been identified among birds and mosquitoes in 18 of the state’s 21 counties. No activity has been identified yet in Atlantic, Cumberland or Salem counties.
Residents should be sure to survey their property and remove any items that can collect rain or sprinkled water. Items such as clogged gutters, flowerpots and old tires are prime breeding grounds for species of mosquitoes most likely to transmit West Nile Virus.
People are also advised to apply insect repellant to their clothing and exposed skin in accordance with labeling directions, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants (weather permitting) outdoors, and limit outdoor activities at dawn, dusk and during evening hours.
Last year, 30 cases of West Nile Virus, including two deaths, were reported to the department.
For more information on prevention measures and the latest on WNV in New Jersey, visit the department’s WNV web page. The toll-free number to locate county mosquito control agencies is (1-888-NO NJ WNV).
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