KENT COUNTY, Mich.-- As people gear up for Labor Day Weekend, the Kent County Health Department is warning against West Nile as they have found several mosquitoes that are carrying the disease within the last several weeks.
No human cases have been reported across Michigan this year, but the health department believes it's only a matter of time before someone gets it.
It seems unusual the health department is cautioning against West Nile now that we are approaching fall, and since there has been no reported human cases. The reason they are being proactive is because in the last several weeks, they have gotten some positive hits on mosquitoes carrying the virus. They say 80% of people who have West Nile don't even notice, or are unaffected, and 19% think they have the stomach flu. They health department doesn’t want that 1% who are susceptible of dying from it, catching the virus.
West Michigan is known for its beautiful wooded areas and gorgeous lake shore views in the summer, but tucked behind the breath-taking views there’s something many of us don't want to deal with: mosquitoes.
“We are never going to eliminate 100% of mosquito bites. Not possible, right?”
Steve Kelso from the Kent County Health Department said there has been zero cases of West Nile virus in humans across Michigan this year.
“We don't believe that's the way it will stay,” said Kelso.
The Kent County Health Department knows a confirmed human case is coming soon.
“We know because of what we have seen in the past. We know that we have had three positive hits now in the mosquito population across the last several weeks,” said Kelso.
The Kent County Health Department sets up 9 netted structures around Kent County. The nets lure mosquitoes inside.
“They think they are coming into fertile breeding grounds. They arrive expecting a party,” said Kelso.
The party is quickly broken up. The mosquitoes are transported to Kent County Health Department where they are pulverized to be tested for West Nile.
“It’s a crazy interesting disease. We think 80% of the people who have West Nile will never know anything,” said Kelso.
19% of people mistake it for stomach flu, but there's one part of the population they want to steer clear of the virus.
“We think that 1% of the people who get West Nile virus will have it turn into very serious neurological condition that can sometimes lead to death,” said Kelso.
The health department said you can fight the bite by making sure there’s no stagnant water around your home. The mosquitoes like to bread in a stagnant pool of water.
“If you think of a bottle cap as a body of water that little tiny body of water can breed a thousand mosquitoes,” said Kelso.
The Kent County Health Department encourages people to empty their bird baths or kids’ pools. Also, they recommend to wear bug repellent with at least 25% DEET.