What to Know
- Nearly three dozen human cases of West Nile virus, two of them fatal, have been reported in New Jersey so far this year, authorities said
- Both victims -- a 62-year-old man and an elderly woman -- were from Bergen County
- "The number of human West Nile Virus cases is the highest we’ve seen since 2012," the state's health commissioner said
Nearly three dozen human cases of West Nile virus, two of them fatal, have been reported in New Jersey so far this year, authorities said Monday.
Both victims who died -- a 62-year-old man and an elderly woman -- were from Bergen County and died this month. New Jersey reported two West Nile-related deaths in 2017, two in 2016 and three in 2015. None of those were in Bergen County. In total, the state has seen 31 cases in 2018, up from just eight human cases in 2017 -- a spike health officials attribute at least in part to the hot and wet summer weather being prime conditions for mosquitos.
"The number of human West Nile Virus cases is the highest we’ve seen since 2012, and the season is not over yet,” New Jersey Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said in a statement.
West Nile is most commonly spread to humans through bites from infected mosquitoes. The most common times for transmission to humans are the summer through fall, and there are no vaccines or medications to treat it when contracted by humans.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about one in five people who are infected develop a fever or mild symptoms like body aches and heache. Roughly one in 150 people develop a serious, sometimes deadly illness; severe symptoms could include high fever and brain swelling that may lead to coma and convulsion. Most infected people, though, show no symptoms at all. The CDC recommends using bug repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants when outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes.
Elnahal says Bergen County officials have been proactive in spraying the highest-risk areas; he added that the health department is working with local agencies statewide who "monitor and initiate rsponses as appropriate."