West Nile virus detected across Michigan in mosquitoes, goose

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Body bent towards the skin surface, this image depicts a lateral view of a feeding female Anopheles merus mosquito. This specimen had landed on a human hand, and was in the process of obtaining its blood meal through its sharp, needle-like labrum, which it had inserted into its human host. (Courtesy of CDC/ James Gathany)

 

Mosquitoes collected in Saginaw and Oakland counties, as well as a Canada goose from Kalamazoo County, have all tested positive recently for West Nile virus, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

This is the first sign of the virus in 2019, officials said.

“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,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health, in a statement. “We urge Michiganders to take precautions such as using insect repellant wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors during those time periods.”

West Nile virus is a risk every year for Michigan residents, as it is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes who have bitten an infected bird.

The virus can cause illness three to 15 days after the mosquito bite. Adults age 60 and older are at the highest risk for West Nile — but anyone can get sick from the virus.

Symptoms of the virus include high fever, confusion, muscle weakness and a severe headache. In 2018 in Michigan there were nine deaths and 104 incidents of severe illness from the virus — which include meningitis and encephalitis.

In 2018 officials tested 4,142 mosquito pools; 159 of which tested positive for West Nile virus.

Officials are recommending people follow the following precautions to decrease their exposure to mosquitoes this summer:

  • Use insect repellent that is registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and has one of the following ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol, and 2-undecanone
  • Infants under 2 months of age should not use insect repellent and instead should wear clothes that cover their arms and legs, and their crib, stroller and baby carrier should be covered with a mosquito net
  • Wear socks, shoes, light-colored long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outside
  • Ensure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens; make repairs to tears or other openings
  • Use bed nets if your windows don’t have screens
  • Eliminate sources of standing water that could support mosquito breeding near your home at least once a week — like bird baths, abandoned swimming pools, wading pools and old tires

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