First traces of West Nile virus detected in Michigan for 2017

LANSING, Mich. - The mosquitoes are out and the first activity of the West Nile virus has been found in West Michigan for 2017.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reports that the virus has been found in a turkey in Barry County and a crow in Kalamazoo County.  A second crow in Saginaw County was also found to have the virus.

The virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. Adults 50 years old and older have the highest risk of severe illness caused by West Nile virus, according to the MDHHS.

Symptoms of West Nile virus include a high fever, confusion, muscles weakness, and a severe headache. More serious complications include neurological illnesses, such as meningitis and encephalitis. Last year, there were 43 serious illnesses and three deaths related to West Nile virus in Michigan. Nationally, there were 2,038 human cases of the virus and 94 deaths reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Everyone older than six months of age should use repellent outdoors,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive of MDHHS in a press release. “It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause a severe illness, so take extra care during peak mosquito-biting hours, which are dusk and dawn for the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus.”

The three birds that were found with West Nile were found either sick or dead earlier this month. The tests were performed at Michigan State University this week.

The mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus may breed near people’s homes in storm drains, shallow ditches, retention ponds, and unused pools. They will readily come indoors to bite if window and door screens are not maintained. As summer temperatures rise, mosquitoes and the virus develop more quickly so it is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites as the weather warms.

For information about West Nile virus activity in Michigan and to report sick or dead birds, visit www.michigan.gov/westnile. Additional information can be found at www.cdc.gov/westnile.

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