Deadly West Nile Virus
Fears Spread
To New Jersey
By Michael Finnegan and Marty Rosen
Daily News Staff Writers
The fears of public health officials that the deadly West Nile virus is winging its way out of New York grew yesterday after four dead crows found in New Jersey tested positive for the disease.
Although no New Jersey resident has the virus, state officials stepped up mosquito control and monitoring following the weekend discovery by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Colorado laboratory.
Officials are taking blood samples from chickens, placed around North Jersey, looking for antibodies that would show whether the birds had been bitten by infected mosquitoes.
The test will show whether mosquitoes are spreading the disease to the state " which would put humans at greater risk " or if migrating birds infected by mosquitoes in the New York hot zone around northern Queens are responsible.
The death toll from the virus stands at five people, with 50 infections in New York State, including a 71-year-old Jackson Heights, Queens, man whose case was confirmed yesterday. He has been released from the hospital.
Dr. Neal Cohen, New York City's health commissioner, yesterday defended the decision to withhold test results of blood samples that will be taken from volunteers in 300 Queens families.
"In many cases, this information is going to end up being equivocal or marginal, and individuals are not going to really be able to use that information in a very positive and constructive way," Cohen said.
He said the tests will merely show whether a person was exposed to the virus.