MDCH Joins CDC To Help Prevent Mosquito-Borne Illness

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

September 7, 2007

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is joining forces with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to raise awareness of mosquito-borne illnesses and the steps people can take to prevent it.

The Fight the Bite initiative is a national effort to help Americans learn more about West Nile Virus (WNV) prevention during peak periods of mosquito activity, along with other illnesses that can be equally serious.

State and county health departments - and their local partners - are working to promote WNV prevention information that emphasizes the following key steps:

- Avoid mosquito bites: Use insect repellent when outdoors especially from dusk to dawn. Look for EPA-labeled products containing active ingredients, such as DEET, Picaridin (KBR3023), or oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-menthane 3,8-diol). Apply more repellent, according to label instructions, if mosquitoes start to bite.

- Mosquito-proof homes: Fix or install window and door screens and cover or eliminate empty containers with standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs.

- Help your community: Report dead birds to help track WNV and support community-based mosquito control programs.

Seasonal activity varies from year to year, but mosquitoes carrying WNV remain a threat. WNV has spread from coast to coast with new cases being reported daily. Since WNV activity in the United States often does not peak until September, more cases are expected.

WNV can cause serious neurological illnesses, such as meningitis and encephalitis. Last year, WNV was responsible for more than 1,000 illnesses and nearly 100 deaths nationwide. In Michigan, 55 cases were reported. So far this year, Michigan has reported two WNV human cases. Many of these illnesses are not reported, so the true number of WNV-related illnesses is likely to be higher. Late summer is a critical time for citizens to be aware of the risks associated with mosquito-borne illness.

"Healthy, active adults who are 50 and older have the highest risk of illness caused by West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses. People who work outdoors in occupations like farming or construction are at greater risk of getting bitten by an infected mosquito," said Dr. Gregory Holzman, State Chief Medical Executive. "One bite from an infected mosquito can lead to a severe - and possibly life-altering illness. Prevention is the key to protection."

Citizens can locate more information about this initiative at www.cdc.gov/westnile, or www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.