West Nile virus cause of New Jersey man's death, health officials say

A Lodi, New Jersey man recently infected with the West Nile virus died Saturday, state health officials said.

A spokesperson for the New Jersey Department of Health confirmed the death to Fox News on Friday, noting his passing marked the state’s first West Nile-related death this year.

The man, identified by NJ.com as 62-year-old Fred Maikisch, was diagnosed with the virus earlier this month before passing away on Sept. 15.

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“I am sorry to share the news that my brother Fred had his MRI last night and the Nile virus has caused such severe damage that there is no hope for recovery. We have decided to remove him from the vent and let him go gently. Thank you all for your support and we ask for continued prayers during this difficult time,” the man’s sister, Terry Maikisch, wrote on Facebook the day before his death.

After investigating a possible case of West Nile, “a Bergen county man diagnosed with West Nile virus died during the course of West Nile virus illness,” a health department spokesperson told Fox News in a statement.

West Nile is a mosquito-borne illness which typically causes headaches, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea, or a rash, among other side effects, though most people don’t experience any symptoms of the virus.

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Most people who are infected recover.

“About 1 in 150 people who are infected develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous system such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord),” according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

So far, in 2018, there have been 25 cases of the virus across 15 counties in the state, according to the New Jersey Department of Health.

That’s a significant increase from last year, when eight cases of West Nile were reported. The health department said the "pattern of hot and wet weather" this summer led to an increased mosquito population, leading to the bump in cases.

Maikisch, an IKEA salesman, was a “devoted husband” and “loving father,” according to his obituary. The 62-year-old was also a “huge Giants fan” and served as the Lodi Little League Coach for more than 20 years.