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Wednesday, July 17, 2002

West Nile Virus Confirmed in Crow in Northfield - First Case in Atlantic County in 2002

A crow collected from a residential property on Zion Road in Northfield was confirmed to be infected with West Nile virus, according to Health Officer Tracye McArdle of the Atlantic County Division of Public Health.

The dead crow was collected from the property on July 8 and tested at the New Jersey State Department of Health Laboratory. This is the first confirmed case of West Nile virus in Atlantic County this year, according to McArdle. Last year, three crows, one horse and nine mosquito pools in the county were found to be infected with the disease.

McArdle noted that the general population is at very low risk for contracting West Nile virus. "Illnesses tend to be mild, with flu-like symptoms. However, people over the age of 50 and those with weakened immune systems are at greater risk for experiencing more serious illness," she said. No human cases of West Nile virus have been documented in Atlantic County since the initial discovery of the disease in the United States in 1999.

Officials from the county Division of Public Health and Office of Mosquito Control are conducting increased mosquito surveillance and distributing educational materials to residents in the Zion Road area.

Residents and businesses throughout Atlantic County can help in the fight against West Nile virus by reporting sick or dead crows or kestrels to the county Division of Public Health for testing. Crows are large birds that are entirely black, including their eyes and feet. Kestrels are small birds, the size of a robin, reddish in color with black mustache marks. Birds must be dead for no more than 24 hours in order for the specimen to be accepted for testing. "These reports from citizens are critical in tracking and controlling the spread of West Nile virus," said McArdle.

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West Nile Virus, page 2 of 2

Residents are also encouraged to eliminate mosquito breeding on their properties by removing sources of standing water such as boats, tires, gutters, containers and unused swimming pools. Limiting outdoor activities near dusk and dawn, covering exposed skin, repairing window screens and using insect repellents according to the manufacturer's instructions can reduce mosquito bites.

To report a dead crow or kestrel in Atlantic County, or for more information, call (609) 645-5971, extension 4277.

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