First cases of West Nile virus reported in New Jersey


New Jersey

The New Jersey Department of Health confirmed the first human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) in the state this year.

Three male residents tested positive earlier this month for West Nile virus in Bergen, Morris and Ocean counties.

Two are in their 50s, one is over 80 and all have been hospitalized. Two people are recovering at home and one remains hospitalized. WNV has also been detected in 293 mosquito pools and one red-tailed hawk this year in New Jersey.

No cases of WNV were reported in horses in 2022. In a typical year, eight cases of human WNV infection were reported.

Last year, New Jersey had 36 human cases of WNV. WNV activity is high among mosquitoes this year, but is similar to five-year average trends.

“August and September are the months we see the most West Nile virus cases in New Jersey,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.

“It’s important that residents take steps to protect themselves by using EPA-registered insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and avoiding going outside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. .”

For many people, the virus causes asymptomatic infection or mild to moderate illness, usually accompanied by fever.

People over 50 and people with weakened immune systems are at greater risk of developing serious illness.

Around one in 150 people will develop a more severe form of the disease, with symptoms including severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, muscle weakness and paralysis.

Early symptoms of WNV can be mistaken for COVID-19 or several other common viral illnesses.

Specific lab tests are needed to confirm WNV, but there is no specific treatment for it. The best way to prevent disease is to avoid mosquito bites.

“Controlling New Jersey’s mosquito population is a major part of protecting our public health,” said New Jersey Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette.

“Although we have experienced exceptionally dry weather this summer, people can help by clearing any standing water in their yard and covering any empty containers that may hold water for more than three days. Even small amounts of rain after these drought conditions can produce significant numbers of mosquitoes living in containers known to spread West Nile virus.”

In addition to potentially harming humans, WNV can also harm some animals. WNV affects the horse’s neurological system, so preventative care is encouraged.

“We urge horse owners to vaccinate their animals against serious mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis,” said the Secretary of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA ), Douglas H. Fisher.

“We found that vaccinated animals are less likely to contract these deadly diseases.”

Residents, business owners and contractors are urged to take steps to reduce mosquito populations on their properties by emptying or changing outdoor standing water at least once a week to stop mosquito breeding.

Areas that may need special attention include flower pots, pet food and water bowls, birdbaths, pool covers, clogged gutters, plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows, as well as any hard-to-see containers or waste, such as under bushes, houses or around building exteriors.

Contact with mosquitoes can also be reduced by using air conditioning where possible and ensuring window screens are in good condition.

Refer to tips for Protect your garden against mosquitoes for more information.

Residents are also encouraged to report mosquito problems to their county’s mosquito control agency.

WNV is an arboviral disease that people can contract from the bite of a mosquito that has fed on an infected bird. WNV is not directly transmitted from birds to humans.

New Jersey WNV surveillance, control, and prevention activities involve the coordinated efforts of a number of federal, state, and local agencies, including NJDOH, NJDEP, NJDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States, the State Mosquito Control Commission, the Rutgers Center for Vector Biology, and local health and mosquito control agencies.

Weekly reports on WNV-related activities are available at the department’s website.

Arboviral activity of NJ in mosquitoes is available at

For more information, visit the Department of Health’s West Nile webpage, the Department of Environmental Protection’s Mosquitoes webpage, and the Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health website.

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