STATE — The first case of West Nile virus has been confirmed in New Jersey in a 19-year-old Monmouth County woman who was hospitalized but has recovered, officials announced Friday. Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd encourages everyone to protect themselves against mosquito bites by wearing insect repellent and draining standing water from property.
The woman was discharged Tuesday from Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune after developing flu-like symptoms including a fever, headache and rash. The woman was likely exposed by several mosquito bites at an outdoor gathering in Ocean County.
“This is the earliest a case of West Nile virus has been detected in New Jersey,” said O’Dowd. “The mild winter and dry spring have led to an early emergence of mosquitoes. The best way to protect yourself against West Nile Virus is to prevent mosquito bites and empty containers of standing water that can breed mosquitoes.’’
West Nile virus is a mosquito-transmitted virus passed primarily between birds by mosquitoes. Human and horses can become infected if bitten by an infected mosquito. Mosquito pools have tested positive in 19 counties—except Cumberland and Salem. Seventeen birds have tested positive in Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, and Warren counties.
Many people infected with West Nile Virus may not develop symptoms or become ill. Symptoms can be mild or severe and can develop 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 or back. Severe symptoms include high fever, neck stiffness and swelling of the brain (encephalitis) which can lead to coma, convulsions and death.
In 2011, seven people tested positive for West Nile Virus. In 2010, 30 cases were reported, including two deaths, one in Camden and one in Hudson.
Clogged gutters, flowerpots and old tires are prime breeding grounds for species of mosquitoes most likely to transmit West Nile Virus so standing water should be drained from property.
Insect repellant should be applied to clothing and exposed skin in accordance with labeling directions, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants (weather permitting) outdoors, and limit outdoor activities during peak hours of dawn, dusk and during evening hours.
For more information on preventing West Nile virus, visit the Department webpage: www.state.nj.us/health/cd/westnile/index.shtml
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