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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
September 17, 2003

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Donna Leusner
609 984-7160


 
New Jersey Reports First Death of a Patient with West Nile Virus


 

TRENTON – An 89-year old Burlington City man who died in the hospital of reported pneumonia tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV), Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. announced today.

The patient was hospitalized three times over the summer for multiple medical problems. He died on August 13. The cause of death was listed as pneumonia.

Due to fever and mental confusion, various blood tests were performed. His blood tested positive for WNV infection at the New Jersey Public Health and Environmental Laboratories on August 29. Further testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed West Nile virus on September 16. Virus was detected in the blood during the CDC testing.

“Although it is unclear whether West Nile virus infection played a role in this patient’s demise, it is important to re-emphasize that the elderly and especially those with underlying health problems are greatest risk for the most serious complications from West Nile virus infection. New Jerseyans remain at risk for West Nile virus until the first frost,’’ said Dr. Lacy.

“Although there is no treatment for this disease, it is completely preventable by avoiding mosquito bites,” Commissioner Lacy said.

The Burlington County man is the seventh confirmed human case of West Nile virus in New Jersey this season.

An 82-year old Little Falls man died in September 2000 of WNV infection and a 45-year old Carteret man died in October 2001 of WNV infection.

The cause of death of the Burlington City man was listed as pneumonia. He later tested positive for WNV infection, which may or may not be related to his death.

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 http://www.state.nj.us/health/ 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 http://www.cdc.gov/.

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.

 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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