Amid the worst outbreak of West Nile virus nationwide in more than a decade, Ocean County's first known human case is revealed by county health officials.

The victim, says county Communicable Disease Supervisor Jennifer Crawford, is a Toms River resident. County health officials do not release identities, ages or gender of West Nile patients. She says that the disease was diagnosed in early August, and that the individual recovered without hospitalization after several days of convalescence.

Ongoing damp weather punctuated by heavy rains give infected mosquitos ample breeding grounds and magnify the threat to humans. Dead birds are an early warning sign.

To date, 77 dead birds from throughout Ocean County have been sent to state labs for testing. The 17 that tested positive emanated from six communities.

Health officials heighten monitoring in areas where positive results are found, and maintain a steady watch of mosquito pools, characterized as containing 70 or more of the insects.

County health officials urge you to report sightings of dead birds, regardless of breed, to their offices in Toms River, 732-341-9700.  See a complete list of preventive measures, symptoms and facts at http://www.ochd.org.

Authorities recommend changing water in bird baths at least twice a week and keeping the basin clean; changing water in pet dishes daily; draining excess water from flowerpots; stocking ponds with mosquito-eating fish; drilling water-draining holes on the bottoms of tire swings; cleaning debris and excess moisture  from gutters, wading pools, trash can lids and wheelbarrows; chlorinating swimming pools and covering them when they're not in use; and filling in driveway depressions that collect water.