Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
September 30, 1999
Rita Manno or Dennis McGowan
TRENTON -- An 81-year-old woman residing in Queens, New York, who became ill at home in August with flu-like symptoms, traveled to New Jersey and was later hospitalized at Hunterdon Medical Center, has been tentatively diagnosed with St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE). Further testing may show the woman was infected instead with the West Nile-like virus that has made a number of other New York City residents ill.
The woman had been ill for several weeks at her home in Queens, N.Y., before she came to stay with relatives in Hunterdon County in late August. She was admitted to Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington with a fever, mobility difficulties and changes in her mental functioning. She has since recovered and was discharged September 20th.
During the woman's hospital stay, blood was drawn and sent to the New York State Health Department Laboratory for analysis. Following New York's diagnosis of SLE, the sample was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine if the West Nile-like virus -- not SLE -- caused her illness.
"New Jersey's situation has not changed. No New Jersey resident has been diagnosed with either SLE or the West Nile-like virus," said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Christine Grant.
Grant added, "New Jersey has assembled a team of human, animal and bird experts from the departments of Health and Senior Services, Environmental Protection, Agriculture, state and county mosquito control commissions and Rutgers University to continue active disease monitoring and mosquito control. We continue to consult daily with the CDC and New York and Connecticut health officials."
The West Nile-like virus is closely related to the SLE virus and is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Neither virus is directly transmitted from birds to humans or from person to person. The West Nile-like virus generally causes a milder illness than SLE in humans. The last SLE case in New Jersey was in 1975.
The West Nile-like virus was first isolated and identified by the CDC last week in birds, including a wild crow, that died in New York City and Westchester County. To help determine if the virus is present in New Jersey, officials have taken the following actions: