S. Jersey man’s death linked to West Nile Virus

A 76-year-old Camden County man who was hospitalized and died in late August tested positive for the mosquito-borne virus, according to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.

The man developed a headache and fever on Aug. 20th and was hospitalized five days later, the health department reported. He had “several serious underlying conditions that also many have contributed to his death” on Aug. 30.

So far this year there have been 11 reported cases of West Nile Virus in New Jersey, including two in Camden County, two in Ocean County and one in Atlantic County. In 2009 New Jersey had three reported cases of the virus. The peak year was 2003, when 34 Garden State residents tested positive for West Nile Virus.

“West Nile Virus is more active this year so everyone – especially seniors and those with weakened immune systems – should take the proper precautions to prevent mosquito bites,” said state health commissioner Poonam Alaigh.

Last week Pennsylvania health officials reported the state’s second West Nile virus case, in Montgomery County, following another in Philadelphia.

First seen in the Western Hemisphere in New York City in 1999, West Nile spread via infected birds to some nearby states in 2000 and then gradually around the country over several years, killing more than 1,000 people and prompting expanded mosquito-control programs. The number of cases has declined in recent years; 12 deaths had been previously reported this year nationwide, six in Arizona.

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