NJ man contracts rare mosquito-borne virus: What is Jamestown Canyon virus?

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Health officials in New Jersey confirmed the state’s first mosquito-borne disease of the year after a man in his sixties from Sussex County tested positive for Jamestown Canyon virus. The unnamed patient experienced onset of fever and neurological symptoms in May, the state health department announced this week.

The patient had not traveled, and was released from the hospital to a long-term rehabilitation center last week, a spokesperson for the health department told Fox News. The case marks the state’s second such reported infection; the first case occurred in 2015 in Sussex County.

“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.”

Jamestown Canyon virus is spread to people through infected mosquitoes. According to health officials, most resulting illness is asymptomatic or mild, but more rare, severe cases can involve the central nervous system prompting hospitalization, and some cases have been fatal.

Most infections occur from late spring through mid-fall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some common symptoms include fever, headache and fatigue. There are no vaccines to prevent JCV, but the CDC says the best way to cut risk of infection is to avoid mosquito bites.

Health officials advise removing standing water near homes and businesses. Other steps to prevent mosquito-borne disease include wearing insect repellent and protective clothing, avoiding the outdoors during peak mosquito activity (dawn or dusk), showering promptly after spending time outside and walking in the center of trails to avoid brush and overgrown grass. 

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