The Department of Health is reporting its first human case of West Nile Virus to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today in an individual who is recovering at home after being hospitalized.
“Most human cases of West Nile virus typically appear from August through October. To prevent mosquito bites, residents should use insect repellant with DEET and, weather permitting, wear clothing with long sleeves and long pants,” said Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd.
The confirmed case involves a 49-year-old Gloucester County resident who developed symptoms including fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, rash and meningitis. The individual was hospitalized and is recovering at home. The resident was likely exposed to the virus while doing yard work and other outdoor activities at home.
West Nile Virus has been identified among mosquitos in the following 16 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Union and Warren.
Additional protection measures include:
- Maintaining screen doors and windows
- Using insect netting on infant carriers and strollers
- Removing and/or draining outdoor containers with standing water
In 2013, there were 12 cases of WNV in New Jersey, including two fatalities. In 2012 there were 48 cases and six fatalities, and in 2011 there were seven cases and no fatalities.
The Department recently launched its second, “Protect Yourself Against West Nile Virus” campaign alerting people to the dangers of West Nile Virus. The campaign features Public Service Announcements (PSAs)-in English and Spanish-with tips on how residents can protect themselves from mosquito bites. The campaign also includes NJ Transit train and bus ads, digital ads and website advertising. A video from Commissioner O’Dowd on how to protect against WNV is available at: http://hwcdn.net/a5h8p3i4/cds/
Additional steps people can take to limit the mosquito population include:
- Remove water from discarded tires
- Clean clogged roof gutters
- Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use. A wading pool becomes a mosquito producer if it is not used on a regular basis
- Turn over wheelbarrows and do not allow water to stagnate in bird baths
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. A swimming pool that is left untended can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Be aware mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on pool covers
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, appearing from 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 or meningitis) which can lead to coma, convulsions and death.
If a person thinks they may have WNV infection, they should visit their health care provider for further evaluation and potential testing for WNV. There is no treatment for WNV, and mild to moderate infections usually resolve within 7 to 10 days. More severe infections may require hospitalization and supportive treatment.
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