Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
October 4, 1999
Rita Manno or
New Jersey's Update on West Nile-like Virus
Four Dead Crows Had Virus; No Human Cases in New Jersey
TRENTON - Four dead crows submitted by the Department of Health to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for analysis tested positive over the weekend for presence of the West Nile-like virus, marking the first time the virus has been identified in birds in New Jersey.
No New Jersey resident has been diagnosed with the West Nile-like virus that has made a number of New York City residents ill since August.
The four crows, submitted Thursday to the CDC's laboratory in Ft. Collins, Colorado, were found in Bergen, Essex, Middlesex and Union Counties. A fifth crow found in Mercer County and tested this weekend did not have the virus.
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.
- 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. Preliminary 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 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.
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