Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
October 7, 1999
Rita Manno or
New Jersey's Update on West Nile-like Virus
No Human Cases in New Jersey;
Additional Crows Test Positive for Virus
TRENTON - Despite reports to the contrary, New Jersey still has no confirmed cases of humans
infected with the West Nile-like virus.
"To date, 12 human blood samples have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) for analysis. Three tests have been performed and all three are negative for the West
Nile-like virus," said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Christine Grant.
Seventeen of 50 dead crows submitted by the Department of Health to CDC
for analysis have been tested. Fifteen crows found in Bergen, Essex, Middlesex and Union Counties
have tested positive; two birds from Mercer tested negative for the virus.
CDC reports the West Nile-like virus outbreak that has made a number of New York residents ill is
continuing to wane. CDC has reported the onset of illness in the last confirmed case in New York was
The West Nile-like virus, closely related to the St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE) virus last identified in
New Jersey in 1975, 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 West Nile-like virus was first isolated and identified by the CDC in late September in birds,
including a wild crow, that died in New York City and Westchester County. To address the situation,
New Jersey has taken the following actions:
- A team of experts from the departments of Health and Senior Services, Environmental Protection,
Agriculture, state and county mosquito control commissions and Rutgers University will continue
active disease monitoring and mosquito control. They will continue to consult daily with the CDC
and New York and Connecticut health officials.
- New Jersey residents have been advised to continue to take precautions to reduce their risk of
mosquito bites. This includes spraying insect repellent containing DEET on their clothing and
exposed skin and wearing long sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors. Residents should also curb
outdoor activities at dawn, dusk and during the evening.
- Hospitals have been asked to contact the State Department of Health
immediately if they have any suspected or confirmed cases of SLE or West Nile-like virus. No
New Jersey resident has been diagnosed with the West Nile-like virus.
- After consultation with Health and Senior Services' department infectious disease experts, blood
samples drawn from person's exhibiting mosquito-born illness-like symptoms will be sent by
hospitals to the CDC for analysis. To date, 12 samples have been sent, three tests have been
completed and all three have been negative for the West Nile-like virus.
- The State Department of Health, in cooperation with local health departments,
has collected dead crows for testing by the CDC. These tests will continue.
- Individuals who find a dead crow on their property should use gloves and double-bag any birds
found before placing them in the trash. Questions on dead birds should be addressed to the
individual's local health department.
- Scientists with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture in Trenton are now testing blood drawn
from sentinel chickens placed primarily in North Jersey for West Nile-like virus antibodies. The
first round of blood tests show the birds are negative for the St. Louis encephalitis virus, an early
indicator the birds may also test negative for the West Nile-like virus when those tests are
completed. Results are expected within the next two weeks.
- Mosquitoes collected from throughout the state will be tested for presence of the virus at CDC's
laboratory in Ft. Collins.
- County mosquito control commissions have been advised to continue to step-up their on-going
surveillance activities and to extend their period of surveillance until further notice. The counties
will continue their adult mosquito and larval control efforts and will delineate target areas for
additional spraying if necessary.
- Individuals seeking additional information on this matter may go to the State Department of Health' website at www.state.nj.us/health.
# # #