A man from just outside the Hudson Valley was bitten by an insect that spreads a potentially fatal virus.

On Tuesday, the New Jersey Department of Health confirmed the state’s first human case of West Nile Virus in a Hunterdon County man in his 70s.

On June 21, the man began exhibiting symptoms of meningitis. He was hospitalized for several days and is now recovering at home, officials say.

“This is the earliest a case of West Nile virus has been detected in New Jersey," New Jersey Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal said. "It is important that residents take steps to protect themselves by using repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants and avoiding the outdoors during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active."

A bite from an infected mosquito can spread West Nile Virus, an infection that can cause serious illness and even death.

One in five people infected people develop a fever and other symptoms. One out of 150 infected people develops a serious, sometimes fatal illness, according to the CDC.

Since 2000, about 7 percent of New Yorkers died after being infected with the virus.

Not everyone infected with West Nile Virus will become ill. Those 50 and older are at the highest risk of developing a serious illness, officials say.

West Nile can cause serious complications, including neurological diseases. It can also cause a milder flu-like illness. Symptoms typically include a fever, headache, body aches, nausea and sometimes a skin rash and swollen lymph glands.

Last summer, human cases of the West Nile virus was reported in Orange, Ulster, Dutchess, Rockland and Westchester counties.

In addition, mosquitoes found in Orange, Rockland and Westchester counties tested positive for the West Nile virus, officials say. It's also believed that someone donated blood in Ulster County without knowing they were infected with the virus.

Health officials released a list of things you can do to reduce mosquitoes near your home:

  • Check your property for any items that can hold water. Get rid of the items or empty the water out and scrub the inside of the item at least once a week.
  • Drill drain holes in the bottoms of recycling containers, turn over wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use, and remove all discarded tires.
  • If you have a swimming pool or spa that is not in use, drain the water off the cover.
  • Tightly cover water storage containers so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs. For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
  • Use an outdoor flying insect spray where mosquitoes rest. Mosquitoes rest in dark, humid areas like under patio furniture, or under the carport or garage. When using insecticides, always follow label instructions.
  • If you have a septic tank, repair cracks or gaps. Cover open vent or plumbing pipes. Use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
  • Make sure that roof gutters drain properly, clear vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds, and remove leaf debris from yards and gardens.

Below are steps you can take to reduce your risk of being bitten by a mosquito:

  • Cover-up as completely as possible. Wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods or when mosquitoes are more active.
  • Use mosquito repellent, which should always be applied according to label directions. Do not use repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children younger than 3 years old.
  • Cover baby carriers with mosquito netting when outside.
  • Stay indoors when mosquitoes are more active.
  • Close doors and make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that the screens do not have rips, tears or holes.

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