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For Release:
August 25, 2006

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Tom Slater

New Jersey’s First Human Case of West Nile Virus This Season Found in Union County Woman


The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services today reported this season’s first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) infection in an 82-year-old Union County woman who is recovering from the illness. 


The Union County woman, who is an avid gardener and frequently participates in outdoor activities, arrived at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital-Rahway on August 5 with fever, chills and muscle weakness. She was admitted, treated and transferred to a rehabilitation facility. She is currently recovering at a nursing home and is expected to make a full recovery.


Preliminary hospital tests suggested WNV and the diagnosis was confirmed by tests at the New Jersey Public Health and Environmental Laboratory (PHEL) on Aug. 23. 


Last year, six New Jersey residents tested positive for WNV. There have been 85 documented human cases of WNV in New Jersey since 1999, when the disease first appeared in the United States.  Nationally, there have been 581 human cases of WNV this year.


“With summer winding down, residents should remember to protect themselves against mosquito bites,” said New Jersey Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D. “We are well into peak of the season for mosquito bites, which runs from mid-July through September.”

Residents should clean or remove any items on their personal property that can collect rain or sprinkler water and serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, such as clogged gutters, flowerpots, or old car tires.  They should also completely change water in birdbaths at least once a week and repair window and door screens.

People should also apply insect repellent to their clothing and exposed skin in accordance with labeling directions, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, weather permitting, when outdoors, and limit outdoor activities at dawn, dusk and during the evening.

This year to date, 136 birds have been submitted for testing by the Department of Health and Senior Services Public Health and Environmental Laboratory. Of those tested, 18 birds found in seven counties have been confirmed positive for the presence of WNV. Positive birds have been found in Bergen, Mercer, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean , Passaic  and Warren counties.


Also to date, 2,300 mosquito pools have been tested for the presence of WNV, and 120 positive pools have been found in Bergen, Burlington, Camden,  Essex,  Gloucester, Hudson,  Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris,  Passaic, Salem , Somerset  and Union counties.


To date no horse has tested positive this year for the presence of WNV. Equine testing is conducted by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s animal health laboratory in Trenton and positive results are sent to the National Veterinary Services Lab (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa for confirmation. For more information, visit the Department of Agriculture web site at


WNV, 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 human to human.


About one in 150 persons, or less than one percent of those infected with WNV, will develop a more severe form of the disease. Symptoms of the more severe disease include severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. The elderly are at higher risk of more severe disease.


New Jersey's WNV and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) surveillance, control and prevention activities involve the coordinated efforts of a number of federal, state and local agencies. These include DHSS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, the State Mosquito Control Commission, the Rutgers Mosquito Research and Control Unit, and local health and mosquito control agencies.


For more information on WNV, visit the DHSS website at

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