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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
August 21, 2003

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Donna Leusner
609-984-7160


 
Second Human Case of West Nile Virus Infection Reported


 

TRENTON -The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services reported its second human case of West Nile virus infection this year, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy announced today.

A 56-year old Morris County man reported headaches, fever, fatigue and changes in mental status on July 27 and was admitted to Morristown Memorial Hospital with a diagnosis of meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) on August 5.  He was discharged on August 9 and is recovering at home.

The state labs collected specimens on August 5 and completed testing on Aug. 19. Blood and spinal fluid specimens were positive for antibodies to West Nile virus. Specimens will be sent to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation.

The man became ill on July 27, two days after returning from a week-long trip to Boulder, Colorado. Because the incubation period of West Nile infection is approximately five to seven days and because he left New Jersey nine days before the onset of illness, it is likely his exposure to West Nile virus occurred in Colorado. That state, which reported no human West Nile virus cases last year, has reported 263 human West Nile virus cases, including six deaths, this year.

"New Jersey residents should continue taking appropriate precautions to avoid mosquito bites since we are in the peak season for West Nile infection,'' said Dr. Lacy.

“Although there is no treatment for this disease, it is completely preventable by avoiding mosquito bites. New Jersey residents 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 inspect repellent containing DEET,’’  Commissioner Lacy added.

Reminders of these preventive measures will be repeated at movie theaters throughout New Jersey this summer. With funding from the CDC, the Department of Health and Senior Services has produced a public service message called “Stop West Nile Virus!” that is now showing in nine counties.

 

“In addition to these preventive measures, all blood donors and donations in the state are being screened for possible West Nile infection", said Eddy Bresnitz, MD, State Epidemiologist and Assistant Commissioner. "To date, no blood donations in New Jersey have tested positive for West Nile virus.”

So far this year, 67 residents have met the state's testing criteria. Of those, 39 are negative and 14 are pending test results and 12 are awaiting samples.  Statewide, 218 crows in 18 counties have tested positive for West Nile virus infection. Also, 121 mosquito pools in 19 counties have tested positive for WNV.

This case is the 45th human case in New Jersey since 2000, of which there were two fatalities. Last year, there were 25 human cases reported in New Jersey and no deaths.

Nationally, this year, the CDC reports 753 human cases as of August 20, with 16 deaths.

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, visit the state's home page at www.state.nj.us/health and click on "West Nile virus.''

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