Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
September 1, 2000
DHSS, Dennis McGowan
DEP, Sharon Southard
TRENTON - A 43-year old Jersey City man has tested positive for the presence of West Nile virus (WNV). Serum and spinal fluid samples tested positive in the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services laboratories, and the result was verified today by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additional confirmatory test results from the CDC will be available in the next few weeks. Until now, WNV had only been detected in New Jersey in birds and mosquitoes.
The man was admitted to Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus earlier this month with symptoms consistent with WNV infection - a fever greater than 100 degrees, muscle weakness, headache and lethargy. He has since been discharged from the hospital and is home recovering. He was most likely bitten by an infected mosquito in mid- to late-July.
"We wish this gentleman a full and speedy recovery," said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Christine Grant.
"This finding underscores the importance of our statewide surveillance and mosquito control activities, and the key role physicians play in recognizing and reporting the symptoms of West Nile virus infection to public health officials," Grant said.
"Given the number of crows found with the virus, it is not surprising to now have our first human case," Grant said. "People should not be unduly concerned nor change their weekend plans, but there are a number of precautions residents can take to reduce their risk of exposure to West Nile virus." Preventive measures include: spraying insect repellent on clothing and exposed skin in accordance with labeling directions and wearing long sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors; curbing outdoor activities at dawn, dusk and during the evening; installing window screens and keeping them in good repair; and eliminating standing water on their own property that can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
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 or from person to person. WNV infection generally causes no symptoms or just mild, flu-like symptoms; however, the elderly are at higher risk of more severe disease.
"The best way to fight West Nile virus is through comprehensive mosquito control," said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Shinn. "New Jersey, through the county-based mosquito control programs, has been aggressive in both surveillance and mosquito control efforts. Historically, these efforts have kept adult mosquito populations low, helping to reduce the risk of human infections. The use of crows and chickens as sentinels for WNV has enhanced the ability of local officials to make well-informed decisions about where and how best to focus mosquito control activities.
New Jersey's WNV surveillance, control and prevention efforts 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.
To date, blood and/or spinal fluid samples from 19 residents have been or are in the process of being tested for the presence of WNV. In addition to the one positive result, tests for five individuals have been negative and the other test results are pending. These individuals either had symptoms and/or signs that met the established WNV testing criteria or exhibited most of the symptoms and are from counties where dead crows with the virus have been discovered.
To date, 496 birds (495 crows and a cockatiel) found in 10 counties have tested positive for the presence of WNV. Positive birds have been found in Bergen (122), Essex (63), Hudson (48), Mercer (1), Middlesex (114), Monmouth (54), Morris (6), Passaic (36), Somerset (2) and Union (50) Counties. A total of 1,077 crows have been accepted for testing this year.
A total of five mosquito pools collected in Bergen County have tested positive for the presence of WNV. More than 1,400 mosquito pools from all 21 counties have been collected by the Rutgers Mosquito Research and Control Unit and tested by the Department of Health and Senior Services and/or the CDC.
Blood samples taken weekly from sentinel chicken flocks placed in all 21 counties and tested by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture have all been negative for the presence of WNV to date. And blood samples of 1,115 house sparrows collected in Bergen, Passaic and Sussex Counties and tested by the CDC also did not detect WNV.
For more information on West Nile virus, visit the State Department of Health and Senior Services' website at www.state.nj.us/health, the State Department of Environmental Protection's site at www.state.nj.us/dep/mosquito, the State Department of Agriculture's site at www.state.nj.us/agriculture, or the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's site at www.cdc.gov.