What to Know
- A Sussex County man in his 60s tested positive for a rare mosquito-borne illness after presenting symptoms last month, the New Jersey Department of Health reported Wednesday.
- The man tested positive for Jamestown Canyon virus (JCV) after an onset of fever and neurological symptoms in May -- making this the first case of a mosquito-borne disease in the state this year and only the second human case of JCV reported in New Jersey.
- Most cases occur from late spring through mid-fall, according to the CDC, with fever, headache, and fatigue as the most common symptoms. Jamestown Canyon virus can rarely cause severe disease, including infection of the brain (encephalitis) or the lining around the brain (meningitis).
A Sussex County man in his 60s tested positive for a rare mosquito-borne illness after presenting symptoms last month, the New Jersey Department of Health reported Wednesday.
The man tested positive for Jamestown Canyon virus (JCV) after an onset of fever and neurological symptoms in May -- making this the first case of a mosquito-borne disease in the state this year and only the second human case of JCV reported in New Jersey, the NJDOH announced. The first case was in 2015 and was also in Sussex County.
Jamestown Canyon virus is found in North America primarily between deer and mosquitoes but can also infect humans given that it is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Reports in humans have been increasing over the last several years as recognition as testing for this virus has increased.
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According to the CDC, "Most Jamestown Canyon virus infections occur from April through September. The virus is found throughout much of the United States, but Minnesota and Wisconsin have reported more than half of all cases. The recent increase in reported cases likely reflects increased awareness and testing, but also could be due to an increase in disease incidence."
The virus is relatively rare with only 145 cases reported nationwide the last 10 years.
“Spending time outdoors, whether walking, gardening, or playing with our dogs, is a good way to maintain physical and mental health, but it is important to take steps to prevent mosquito and tick bites, which are responsible for several diseases in New Jersey” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in a statement. “When enjoying the outdoors, remember to use an EPA-registered insect repellent, cover skin with clothing when you can, and check yourself and your pets for ticks and quickly remove them with tweezers.”
Most cases occur from late spring through mid-fall, according to the CDC, with fever, headache, and fatigue as the most common symptoms. Although, generally, illnesses caused by JCV are mild. However, moderate-to-severe central nervous system illnesses requiring hospitalization have been reported, including fatal infections, like infection of the brain (encephalitis) or the lining around the brain (meningitis). Additionally, there are no vaccines to prevent or medicines to treat Jamestown Canyon virus infection, and the treatment centers around supportive care.
“If you or someone you know is experiencing flu-like symptoms, including fever and headache, contact your healthcare provider and let them know if you suspect a mosquito or tickborne illness,” Persichilli said.
In addition to JCV, New Jersey residents are also at risk for other mosquito-borne diseases, including West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, which are generally seen in summer and early fall. Because of these diseases, the state's Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Health work together to control the mosquito population and limit the potential for these health risks.
“The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Mosquito Control and Coordination works closely with the Department of Health and county mosquito control agencies to monitor and reduce mosquito populations and limit potential public health risks as much as possible,” DEP Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette said in a statement.
New Jersey residents can help to reduce these risks by taking certain steps, including eliminating standing water, checking flowerpots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers and other places that hold water. Getting rid of standing water significantly reduces the mosquito population and, in turn, the risk of mosquito bites and the illnesses they can carry.