News Release

PO 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
Christine Grant
Commissioner
For Release:
June 9, 2000
For Further Information Contact:
Dennis McGowan 609-984-7160
DEP, Sharon Southard 609-984-1795
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New Jersey's Update on West Nile Virus -
Test Results as of 6/9/00

TRENTON - Of 120 crows tested to date by the Department of Health and Senior Services Public Health and Environmental Laboratory one crow found in River Edge, Bergen County, has tested positive for the presence of the West Nile virus. The test was confirmed today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which also today reported two positive crows found in Rockland County, New York.

"The New Jersey test shows that the surveillance system we have established to monitor West Nile virus is working as planned," said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Christine Grant. "What the test does not tell us is where the crow was infected, however, the CDC believes it is likely the bird was newly infected."

To date, 43 sentinel chicken blood samples from all 21 counties and 56 mosquito pools collected in eight counties - including Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon and Union - have tested negative for West Nile virus (WNV). Last year, when the virus was detected for the first time in the Western Hemisphere, 74 crows and two mosquito pools collected in New Jersey tested positive for the virus. No New Jersey resident tested positive for the virus last year and no human tests have been requested this year.

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 virus is not directly transmitted from birds to humans or from person to person. WNV infection generally causes no symptoms or just mild, flu-like symptoms, however, the elderly are at higher risk of more severe disease.

The West Nile virus was first isolated and identified by the CDC in September 1999 in birds found dead in New York City and Westchester County. The virus was responsible for 62 human cases of encephalitis in New York State and seven deaths.

In New Jersey, a team of experts from the departments of Health and Senior Services, Environmental Protection, Agriculture, state and county mosquito control commissions and programs, local health departments and Rutgers University will continue WNV monitoring and mosquito control.

New Jersey residents should continue to take precautions to reduce their risk of mosquito bites. This includes spraying insect repellent on their clothing and exposed skin in accordance with labeling directions and wearing long sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors. Residents can also curb outdoor activities at dawn, dusk and during the evening. Residents should also eliminate standing water on their own property that can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Individuals seeking additional information on West Nile virus may go to the State Department of Health and Senior Services' website at www.state.nj.us/health.

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