West Nile Virus Continues to Affect Humans and Horses

Maryland, New Jersey, and Connecticut have now experienced their first human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) for 2001. A 72-year-old male from the Gwynns Falls area of Baltimore City, Md., was announced as positive for WNV on Sept. 6 b

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Maryland, New Jersey, and Connecticut have now experienced their first human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) for 2001. A 72-year-old male from the Gwynns Falls area of Baltimore City, Md., was announced as positive for WNV on Sept. 6 by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) Laboratories Administration. Confirmation is pending from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Also, an unidentified 63-year-old Baltimore County woman died after being taken off life-support systems. She tested 98 percent positive for WNV. The Maryland DHMH announced on Sept. 7 that the woman had been admitted to the hospital last month after losing consciousness and having seizures. According to reports, the woman died from other causes and might not be counted as a WNV fatality. Blood samples have been sent to the CDC for confirmation, and results should be available in about three weeks. The tests done on the national level are more sensitive and involved than those done by many of the states.


The first human case in New Jersey appeared in a 72-year-old Bergenfield woman. Testing on serum and spinal fluid samples by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services confirmed the presence of WNV, but final confirmation from the CDC is not due back for a few weeks.


Three people tested positive for WNV on screening tests performed at the Department of Public Health Laboratory, according to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. All were hospitalized with meningitis or encephalitis in late August or early September. One person is a resident of Fairfield, another a resident of West Haven, and the third person was a tourist who vacationed in Staten Island, N.Y., and Norwalk, Conn., before becoming ill. The Fairfield resident and the tourist have been discharged from the hospital and are recovering, while the West Haven resident is still hospitalized.


Equine cases also continue to rise. According to Pennsylvania’s Agriculture Secretary Samuel Hayes, WNV has been detected in a horse from Montgomery County. However, confirmation has not been made on the national level. Previous Pennsylvania equine cases in 2001 include a horse from Bucks County

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Written by:

Sarah Evers Conrad has a bachelor’s of arts in journalism and equine science from Western Kentucky University. As a lifelong horse lover and equestrian, Conrad started her career at The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care magazine. She has also worked for the United States Equestrian Federation as the managing editor of Equestrian magazine and director of e-communications and served as content manager/travel writer for a Caribbean travel agency. When she isn’t freelancing, Conrad spends her free time enjoying her family, reading, practicing photography, traveling, crocheting, and being around animals in her Lexington, Kentucky, home.

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