As fall approaches, we tend to let our guard down about mosquitos. A gentle reminder: It is The West Nile virus has been confirmed in Michigan. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recently confirmed eight human cases of West Nile virus for 2018.
According to MDHHS, the eight confirmed cases include one resident of Berrien County, one resident of Kent County, one resident of Oakland County, and five residents of Wayne County including one death. With the exception of one case, all those diagnosed received medical attention from a hospital. In addition to the eight human cases, three Michigan blood donors have had West Nile detected in their blood.
So far in 2018, 66 birds have tested positive for West Nile from 21 of Michigan’s 83 counties. In addition, 74 positive mosquito pools have been detected in eight Michigan counties.
Most of the people who become infected with WNV won’t develop any symptoms of the virus. However, some become sick three to 15 days after exposure. About one-in-five infected persons will have mild illness with fever, and about one in 150 infected people will become severely ill.
Mild illness symptoms could include a headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Severe symptoms of West Nile are associated with encephalitis or meningitis and may include a stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, convulsions and paralysis. Seniors 60 and older are more susceptible to the more severe symptoms.
How can you stay healthy? MDHHS advises that simple, effective strategies are available.
- Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.
- Empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes lay eggs.
- Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.
- Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET or other EPA-approved product to exposed skin or clothing, and always following the manufacturer’s directions for use.
- Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.
For more information and surveillance activity about the West Nile and other mosquito-borne viruses in Michigan, visit michigan.gov/westnilevirus.