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For Release:
September 12, 2003

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Donna Leusner

New Jersey Reports Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Human West Nile Virus Cases This Year


The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) reported its fourth, fifth and sixth human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) infection in New Jersey this year, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. announced today.  The latest cases are a 20-year old Monmouth County woman, a 71-year Burlington County woman, and a 73-year old Bergen County woman.

The Monmouth County woman had WNV detected when blood she donated tested positive at a New Jersey blood bank.  She donated the blood on August 31, 2003, and developed headache, fever, and mild rash later that evening. 

The woman was not hospitalized and has since fully recovered.  She has been contacted by the blood bank for follow-up testing, per recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Health officials stress that the woman did not contract WNV from donated blood and that no one contracted WNV from her blood due to testing safeguards in place to protect the blood supply.

On July 1, 2003, New Jersey began screening donated blood for the presence of West Nile virus. Blood collection facilities are also adding screening questions to identify and exclude people who exhibit fever and headache in the week prior to donation. At least 30 blood banks in the U.S. are capable of this testing, two of which serve New Jersey: the American Red Cross/Penn Jersey Blood Bank in Philadelphia and New Jersey Blood Services in New Brunswick.

The Burlington County woman reported symptoms that included fever, muscle weakness and altered mental status.   She was hospitalized on September 1, 2003, was diagnosed with meningoencephalitis, and remains in the hospital at this time.

The Bergen County woman reported symptoms that included fever, headache, altered mental status, muscle weakness, and stiff neck.  She was hospitalized on September 1, 2003 and diagnosed with meningitis.  This patient is also still hospitalized at this time.

Information on New Jersey’s current number of confirmed West Nile cases in humans, crows and mosquito pools is available on the DHSS web site at by clicking on the West Nile Virus link.  The site also has information on transmission, symptoms and protective measures New Jerseyans can take.

Data regarding nationally confirmed cases and trends can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at

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.


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