The Department of Health announced the state’s first case of West Nile Virus on Aug. 16.
A 55-year-old male from Burlington County developed symptoms of the disease on Aug. 5, including fever, muscle weakness, vomiting and dizziness. He was hospitalized and now recovering is at home.
The man was exposed while gardening and conducting other outdoor activities around his home.
West Nile Virus has been identified among mosquito’s in all New Jersey counties except Cumberland and Salem.
New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd said most human cases of West Nile appear from August through October. She recommends residents use insect repellent and stay indoors during dawn and dusk, when mosquito’s are most active.
Other precautions include maintaining screen doors and windows; using insect netting on infant carriers and strollers; and wearing long sleeves and pants.
2012 was the most active West Nile Virus season in the state’s history with 48 cases and six fatalities. Three of the cases from reported from Burlington County, including one fatality.
In 2011, there were seven cases and no fatalities. In 2010, there were 30 cases and two fatalities.
Many people infected with West Nile Virus do not become ill and may not develop symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may be mild or severe and show up 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 and back. Severe symptoms include high fever, neck stiffness and swelling of the brain which can lead to coma, convulsions and death.
O’Dowd said depressions made by falling trees during Superstorm Sandy have created new places for mosquito’s to breed. She asks residents to removed standing water where mosquito’s may breed.
The Department of Health suggests drilling holes in recycling containers, cleaning clogged rain gutters, turning over wheelbarrows and chlorinating swimming pools.
More information is online at state.nj.us/health/cd/westnile.