West Nile Virus hits NYC again

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West Nile Virus Appears in NYC

by JIM FITZGERALD Associated Press Writer

NEW CITY, N.Y. (AP) -- The discovery of three crows found dead of the West Nile virus in New York and New Jersey has dashed any hopes that the mosquito-borne virus may have died out over the winter.

''It is certainly a disappointment when a public health threat rears its head, but on the other hand we knew it was a very obvious possibility, perhaps even a probability,'' said Kristine Smith, a spokeswoman for the New York Health Department.

Two dead crows found in Rockland County tested positive for the virus. The third was found in River Edge, N.J.

Last year, West Nile -- first misdiagnosed as St. Louis encephalitis -- killed six people in New York City and one in Westchester and sickened more than 60 others. It also was blamed for hundreds of bird deaths -- mostly crows -- in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Officials throughout the region said the discovery showed the need for the many prevention measures already put into place, ranging from larvicides in storm sewers to ''sentinel chickens'' that can be regularly tested for the virus.

None said it would automatically mean a return to the widespread aerial spraying that was undertaken last year.

''In itself, the discovery poses no threat to humans,'' said Susan Meyer, a Rockland County spokeswoman. ''Our preventive steps are in place and will go ahead.''

In the most serious cases, the virus can cause infection resulting in encephalitis, or swelling of the brain. Elderly individuals, or those with compromised immune systems, are most at risk.

-- Deb M. (vmcclell@columbus.rr.com), June 10, 2000

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