A 73-year-old woman who developed seizures as a result of the disease earlier this month is Camden County's fifth victim of the West Nile virus this year, county officials said.
After being hospitalized with a high fever and low blood pressure on Sept. 2, the woman developed seizures and breathing problems and had to be moved to a hospital in Philadelphia, officials said.
The woman's condition hasn't improved since, officials said, and lab work done on Sept. 7 was confirmed as a West Nile case by state labs Friday.
As with other victims, state officials didn't release information on where the latest victim lives.
The first Camden County victim of the virus in 2013, a 68-year-old man who had been in intensive care since first going to the hospital on Aug. 12, was also released to a long-term care facility on Aug. 31, officials said. The second, an 84-year-old man who first reported symptoms of the virus in mid-August, was hospitalized after going to the emergency room, complaining of headaches and a fever for three days.
The other two victims, a 39-year-old man and a 57-year-old woman, who each first reported symptoms in August, both went to the hospital complaining of various symptoms, and were confirmed as West Nile cases earlier this month.
Though there haven't been any deaths in Camden County, state officials said a Gloucester County resident died of the virus in late August, just weeks after the state's first case was confirmed in Burlington County.
The virus, which typically shows up between August and October, has been identified in mosquitoes in 20 of New Jersey's 21 counties, officials said, and residents are warned to use bug spray and stay indoors in the hours around dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
Eight people have died from West Nile since 2010, according to state records, and 85 people have been sickened in the same period. 2012 was the most active year for the virus, with 48 cases reported and six deaths.
Damage from last year's hurricane season has led to conditions that could bulk up the mosquito population, and a wetter-than-average summer has state and county officials asking residents to do what they can to curb the problem.
“At this time, and coming on the heels of the wettest summer months in the history of the county, I want to be clear, residents need to be on the lookout for standing water,” said freeholder Jeffrey Nash, liaison to the Camden County Mosquito Commission, in a statement. “This mosquito season will continue well into October, and as a community, we have to work together in order eliminate ideal breeding locations for these pests.”
The county works with state labs to track West Nile locally, Nash said, and the county mosquito commission sprays any areas where the virus is identified within 24 hours of verification.
Mild to moderate West Nile infections usually resolve within seven to 10 days, officials said, but more severe infections may require hospitalization and supportive treatment.
For more information on West Nile and its prevention, visit the New Jersey Department of Health website.