NJ man dies following West Nile diagnosis, officials say

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A New Jersey man who died last month had tested positive for West Nile virus, health officials confirmed. The man, who was in his 60s, was from Camden and was first admitted to the hospital for symptoms on July 16. 

After treatment, he was discharged to a sub-acute care center where he died, Camden County officials said Saturday. 

“West Nile virus typically affects a small number of New Jersey residents each year, however, the prevalence of the virus has been increasing recently,” County Health Officer Dr. Paschal Nwako said in a news release. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim and his family. The Camden County Department of Health is continuing to work with the Mosquito Commission to ensure that additional spraying and testing will be conducted in the area.” 

West Nile virus  is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and is most commonly spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. 

It’s not clear what the man had been complaining of prior to hospitalization, but most people – about eight in 10 — infected by the virus do not develop symptoms. About one in five may develop fever with other symptoms, such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash, according to the CDC. For those diagnosed with febrile illness, most recover completely, but fatigue and weakness may last weeks or months. 

About one in 150 people infected with the virus may develop severe illness impacting the central nervous system, such as encephalitis or meningitis, according to the CDC. Symptoms of severe illness could include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, vision loss, paralysis or other issues. People ages 60 and older are considered to be at greater risk for severe illness, along with those who have certain medical conditions like cancer and diabetes. 

Recovery among this subset of illness may take weeks or months, although in some cases it may be permanent. About one in 10 patients who develop severe illness die. 

Camden County officials recommended using an EPA-registered insect repellant to protect against infection. Residents were also advised to remove standing water from property to reduce pest population. 

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