The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services today reported its first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) infection this season in a 48-year-old Camden County woman who is recovering from the illness.
“Even though the weather is getting cooler, until frost sets in, it is important that New Jersey residents remain vigilant and remember that, although there is no treatment for this disease, it is completely preventable by avoiding mosquito bites,” said Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. “ New Jerseyans should keep window screens in good repair and eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can breed, wear long-sleeved clothing - especially at dawn and dusk - and use insect repellent containing DEET.”
The Camden County case is the 77th human case of West Nile virus in New Jersey since 1999; five of these cases were fatal. Last year, there were 34 human cases reported in New Jersey, including three deaths.
The Camden County woman presented to Virtua West Jersey Hospital in Marlton on September 9 with fever, headache, rash, hip pain, nausea, vertigo and fatigue. She was admitted with symptoms of meningitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord. The patient was discharged on September 18 and is nearing full recovery.
The woman does not have a history of blood transfusion, blood donation, organ transplant, or vaccination against yellow fever. She reported outdoor exposure in her backyard and travel to Long Beach Island and Wildwood prior to symptom onset.
The state lab received the woman’s specimens on September 27 and completed testing yesterday. Blood and spinal fluid specimens were confirmed positive for antibodies to WNV.
Last year, the first human case was reported on August 15. This year’s WNV surveillance indicates that there has been a decrease in activity in New Jersey and other northeastern states, while activity in western states such as California and Arizona has increased.
Nationally, there are fewer human cases of West Nile virus reported this year than last year according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 1,865 human cases have been reported in 39 states and the District of Columbia, including 59 deaths in 20 states. This time last year, 6,507 cases were reported in 42 states and the District of Columbia, including 136 deaths.
So far this year, 47 New Jersey residents, including the Camden County resident, have met the state’s testing criteria for West Nile virus. Of those, 34 tested negative for the virus and 2 are pending test results. Samples have not yet been received for the remainder.
Statewide, 85 birds in 15 counties have tested positive. This time last year, 509 birds had tested positive in all 21 counties.
Additionally this year, 253 mosquito pools have tested positive in 19 counties. Last year this time,
347 mosquito pools had tested positive in all 21 counties.
To date five horses in four counties have tested positive for the presence of WNV. Last year this time, 116 horses had tested positive in 16 counties. Equine testing is conducted by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s animal health laboratory in Trenton and positive results are sent to the National Veterinary Services Lab (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa for confirmation. For more information, visit the Department of Agriculture web site at www.state.nj.us/agriculture.
The West Nile virus, an arboviral disease, is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. WNV is not directly transmitted from birds to humans. WNV infection generally causes no symptoms or just mild, flu-like symptoms; however, the elderly are at higher risk of more severe disease.
New Jersey's West Nile virus surveillance, control and prevention activities involve the coordinated efforts of a number of federal, state and local agencies. These include the New Jersey Departments of Health and Senior Services, Environmental Protection, and Agriculture, the CDC, the State Mosquito Control Commission, the Rutgers Mosquito Research and Control Unit, and local health and mosquito control agencies.
For more information on West Nile virus, visit the state’s home page at www.state.nj.us/health and click on “Latest West Nile Virus Information.”