The New Jersey Department of Health is confirming the state’s first human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in a 48-year-old Camden County man. On July 8, the individual began exhibiting symptoms including headache, altered mental status and encephalitis, which is swelling of the brain. He is currently hospitalized.
“As New Jersey moves through mosquito season, it is important for residents to stay healthy and protect against mosquito-borne illnesses by using EPA-registered insect repellent when outdoors,” Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett said. “To reduce likelihood of bites, eliminate standing water from your property, which provides opportunities for mosquitoes to breed.”
Last year, there were 26 cases of West Nile Virus in New Jersey, including three fatalities.
So far this year, West Nile Virus has only been identified among mosquito populations in Monmouth and Atlantic counties.
Additional protection measures include:
- Wearing long sleeves and pants, weather permitting
- Maintaining screen doors and windows
- Using insect netting on infant carriers and strollers
- Draining outdoor containers with standing water
Additional steps to limit mosquito breeding sites include:
- Removing standing water from your property
- Cleaning clogged roof gutters
- Dumping plastic wading pools when not in use. These allow mosquitoes to breed if not used on a regular basis.
- Turning over wheelbarrows and bird baths with stagnant water
- Cleaning and chlorinating swimming pools that are not used. Mosquitoes can also breed in water that collects on pool covers.
Many people infected with West Nile Virus do not become ill and may not develop symptoms. When symptoms 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. There is no treatment for WNV, and mild to moderate infections usually resolve within seven to 10 days. More severe infections may require hospitalization or supportive treatment.