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Blood and/or cerebrospinal fluid samples from suspected West Nile virus patients with clinical symptoms are sent to a registered laboratory for an Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test that detects West Nile virus antibodies - sometimes a follow-up sample is needed to confirm diagnosis, and in rare cases, samples are sent to the CDC for definitive confirmation.
It is mandatory for commercial labs to report all positive results for West Nile virus to the DHSS for confirmatory testing and a patient can only be diagnosed as a certified case after the Public Health and Environmental Laboratory (PHEL) tests the blood and confirms them to be positive.
The CDC is working with state and local health departments, the Food and Drug Administration and other government agencies, as well as private industry, to prepare for and prevent West Nile virus.
The CDC is coordinating a nation-wide electronic database where states share information about West Nile virus and is also helping states develop and carry out improved mosquito prevention and control programs by developing better, faster tests to detect and diagnose West Nile virus - they are also improving education and programs for the media, the public, and health professionals.
New testing laboratories for West Nile virus are being set up and work carried out on the development of vaccines to deal with the virus.
The West Nile virus surveillance plan is coordinated among a number of state and local agencies and involves the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Office of Mosquito Control and Coordination, NJ Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), Department of Agriculture, Division of Animal Health, Rutgers University and 21 county mosquito control agencies, local health departments, physicians and hospitals, along with the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other states in the region.