New Jersey has earliest-ever West Nile virus case

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019
(Andre Penner)
Andre Penner-AP

TRENTON, N.J. (WPVI) -- Even before the annual mosquito awareness campaign could start, New Jersey posted its first human case of West Nile virus for 2019.

"This is the earliest a case of West Nile virus has been detected in New Jersey," said Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal.

State officials say the victim, a man in his 70s from Hunterdon County, began exhibiting symptoms of meningitis on June 21.

He was hospitalized for several days and is now recovering at home.

There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus, preventing bites is the best way to avoid it.

"Controlling New Jersey's mosquito population is a major part of protecting our public health," said DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe.

"Dumping out standing water on your property goes a long way toward reducing mosquito bites by limiting where they grow. Anywhere that collects water can breed mosquitos, so checking flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers and other places can reduce the risk of mosquito bites and the illnesses they can carry."

Use repellent, wear 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.

If they do develop, 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.

New Jersey is due to launch its Fight the Bite NJ awareness campaign later this week to raise awareness and information on how to avoid mosquito-borne illness.

Last year, New Jersey had 61 human cases of WNV.

This week, Pennsylvania posted its first cases of West Nile-infected mosquitoes, including one in Upper Darby, Delaware County.