New Jersey has recorded its first human case of West Nile virus in 2019. The state Department of Health has confirmed that a Hunterdon County man in his seventies was the victim. The man began exhibiting symptoms of meningitis on June 21 and was hospitalized for several days but 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.”
WNV is an arboviral disease which people can acquire through the bite of a mosquito that has fed on an infected bird; it is not directly transmitted from birds to humans. Last year, New Jersey had 61 human cases of WNV.
Many people infected with WNV do not become ill and may not develop symptoms. 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. 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.