New Jersey confirms its earliest ever West Nile Virus case

LODI, New Jersey (WABC) -- New Jersey health officials have confirmed the state's first human case of the West Nile virus this year, the earliest it has ever been detected in state history.

They say a Hunterdon County man in his 70s began showing signs of meningitis on June 21 and was hospitalized for several days.

They later confirmed he had contracted West Nile virus, which is spread by mosquitoes that have fed on an infected bird.

The man is still recovering at home. His name and further details about the case have not been released.

Officials say 61 people in New Jersey were infected by West Nile virus last year, marking the highest number of cases ever reported in the state.

The virus is spread by the bite of a mosquito infected with the West Nile virus. It is not spread from person to person, and many people infected do not become ill and may not develop symptoms.

About 20 percent of infected people will develop West Nile fever. When symptoms 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, while 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.

Tips for reducing mosquitoes around homes

Mosquitoes require water for reproduction. The following are measures that can help reduce mosquitoes:
-Eliminate standing water suitable for mosquitoes
--Dispose of water-holding containers, such as ceramic pots, used tires, and tire swings
--Drill holes in the bottom of containers such as those used for recycling
--Clean clogged roof gutters.
--Turn over objects that may trap water when not in use, such as wading pools and wheelbarrows
--Change water in bird baths on a weekly basis
--Clean and chlorinate swimming pools. When pools are not in use, use pool covers and drain when necessary

Tips for avoiding mosquito bites when outdoors

Mosquitoes require a blood meal for reproduction. The following are measures that can help reduce bites from mosquitoes that feed on people:
--Be particularly careful at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
--Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts. Clothing material should be tightly woven.
--Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors.
--Consider the use of CDC-recommended mosquito repellents, containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535, or 2-undecanone, and apply according to directions, when it is necessary to be outdoors.
--When using DEET, use the lowest concentration effective for the time spent outdoors (for example, 6 percent lasts approximately two hours and 20 percent for four hours) and wash treated skin when returning indoors. Do not apply under clothing, to wounds or irritated skin, the hands of children, or to infants less than two months old.

Also, be sure door and window screens are tight fitting and in good repair to avoid mosquito bites when indoors.

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