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News Release

 
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
   October 12, 2001

George T. DiFerdinando, Jr., MD, MPH
Acting Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
DHSS - Laura Otterbourg, 609-984-7160
DEP - Sharon Southard, 609-984-1795
NJDOA - Debbie Lawler, 609-292-8896


West Nile Virus Update

Two Additional Human Cases Detected in New Jersey

TRENTON - Testing completed by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services' Public Health and Environmental Laboratories has detected the presence of West Nile virus (WNV) in blood and spinal fluid samples drawn from two more state residents. This brings to six the number of human cases of WNV infection detected in the state this season.

The newly diagnosed cases include a 72-year old man from Newark (Essex County) and a 38-year old woman from Pennsauken (Camden). Final confirmation of the cases will be made by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within a few weeks.

The Newark man was admitted to St. Michael's Medical Center August 23 with symptoms consistent with WNV infection, including fever, muscle weakness and altered mental status. His clinical condition improved and he was discharged. The Pennsauken woman presented at Kennedy Health System's Cherry Hill Campus hospital on September 20 with symptoms that began in late August and included fever, headache and muscle weakness. She was discharged and is receiving physical therapy on an outpatient basis. Both individuals were most likely bitten by an infected mosquito in mid to late August.

"With cooler weather and shorter days, there is a reduced risk of West Nile virus infection at this time of year, however residents should continue to take recommended personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites until the first hard frost in their area occurs," said George T. DiFerdinando, Jr., M.D., Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.

Among the personal precautions residents can take are such measures as 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. Windows screens should also be used and kept in good repair.

Bob Kent, Administrator of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protections' Office on Mosquito Control Coordination, said that recent test results of mosquito pools reported to his office on October 11 indicated no presence of WNV.

"This is a good indication that the mosquito season, especially in North Jersey, is winding down," said Kent, noting that it is still important to carry out prevention and control methods throughout the year. He said any adult mosquito populations can still be dealt with by county mosquito control agencies.

One important year-round mosquito control activity, Kent said, is tire clean up. Every county in the state received funding from the $2.4 million tire round-up program this year to assist in cleaning up scrap tires which can serve as mosquito breeding grounds if left untreated. The state has proposed an additional $2.4 million in the fiscal year 2002 budget for tire clean up.

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 or from person to person. WNV infection generally causes no symptoms or just mild, flu-like symptoms; however, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk of more severe disease.

In addition to humans, the virus has been detected this season in New Jersey in 12 horses, and in birds and/or mosquitoes in every county. In total, 995 crows and 318 mosquito pools collected from across the state have tested positive for the presence of WNV this season. In 2000, testing confirmed the presence of WNV in six state residents, and numerous birds, mosquitoes and horses.

New Jersey's WNV 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 WNV Resources webpage at www.state.nj.us/governor/westnile.



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Department of Health and Senior Services
P. O. Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

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