By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

A Hunterdon County man is the first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) of 2019 in New Jersey, according to state health officials.

Map of New Jersey/ National Atlas of the United States

The man in his 70s began exhibiting symptoms of meningitis on June 21. He was hospitalized for several days and is now recovering at home.

“This is the earliest a case of West Nile virus has been detected in New Jersey,” said Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal. “It is important that residents take steps to protect themselves by using repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants and avoiding the outdoors during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.”

Many people infected with WNV do not become ill and may not develop symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may be mild or severe. 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.

Infectious diseases contracted on a dare

Severe symptoms include high fever, neck stiffness and swelling of the brain (encephalitis) which can lead to coma, convulsions and death. Less than 1 percent of infected people will develop severe symptoms. People over the age of 50 and people with weak immune systems are at greater risk of developing severe illness.

There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus. The best way to prevent the disease is to avoid mosquito bites.