Pa., N.J. report first West Nile cases of 2013

A mosquito on a human. New Jersey has reported its first case of West Nile virus this year. (AP Photo)

Pennsylvania and New Jersey officials say the states have detected their first human West Nile virus cases of 2013.

A Burlington County man is the first person to be diagnosed with the virus in New Jersey this year, state health officials said.

In Pennsylvania, a Montgomery County man was hospitalized from West Nile, and a York County man was tested for the virus, but not hospitalized, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The potentially deadly disease is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes and can cause inflammation of the brain and spinal cord lining.

Authorities in New Jersey said the 55-year-old Burlington County man developed symptoms of the disease on Aug. 5, was hospitalized and is now recovering at home.

His symptoms had included fever, muscle weakness, vomiting and dizziness.

The man was exposed to the virus while gardening and doing other outdoor activities around his home, health officials said.

"Most human cases of West Nile virus typically appear from August through October, and residents should be careful to protect themselves by using insect repellant and staying inside during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active," New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd said in a statement.

Pennsylvania officials didn't release additional details about the state's two cases.

So far this year, mosquitoes carrying the virus have been detected in all counties in New Jersey except Cumberland and Salem, authorities said. West Nile-infected mosquitoes have been identified in 36 Pennsylvania counties.

Last year was the most active West Nile season in New Jersey history, officials said, with 48 confirmed cases and six deaths. In Pennsylvania, there were 60 cases and four deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

O'Dowd noted that Superstorm Sandy "created many new places for mosquitoes to breed," such as depressions made by falling trees. Authorities in both states are encouraging residents to take measures to limit pools of standing water, where mosquitoes may breed.

"Our first positive human case of West Nile Virus serves as a reminder of the importance of prevention and education," Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Michael Wolf said in a statement. "There are a few simple steps we can all take to help prevent the spread of this virus among our families and in our communities."

People are urged to take steps that include:

- Removing cans, containers, pots or other objects that could collect standing water
- Turning over wading pools and wheelbarrows when not using them
- Having roof gutters cleaned yearly
- Not letting water stagnate in bird baths
- Cleaning swimming pools, and removing standing water from pool covers

Additional ways to protect yourself from mosquitoes include using screen doors and windows, using insect nets on strollers and wearing long sleeves and pants.

Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; Follow @phillynews on Twitter.