MDCH Detects Three New West Nile Virus Human Cases

Contact: James McCurtis, Jr. 517 241-2112 cell 517 243-1678
Agency: Community Health

September 19, 2008

LANSING - Three Michigan residents were positively identified today as having West Nile Virus (WNV), bringing the total number of cases to five for 2008. A 58-year old male from Macomb County was hospitalized in early September with signs of meningitis and has since been released. A 57-year old male from Wayne County was hospitalized in late August with signs of meningitis and has since been released. The last case confirmed today is an 83-year female from the City of Detroit who remains hospitalized since early this month.

Previous cases were an 81-year-old Lenawee County man and a 57-year old male from Wayne County. There are no deaths.

West Nile Virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. The end of summer is when mosquitoes are older and more likely to carry the virus. Hot and dry weather conditions increase the risk for infections in people. The types of mosquitoes that transmit the virus bite during evening and nighttime hours.

Most people bitten by a WNV infected mosquito show no symptoms of illness. 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. Symptoms of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and meningitis (inflammation of the spinal cord and brain linings) include stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, convulsions and paralysis.

Persons aged 55 and older are more susceptible to severe WNV disease symptoms. Physicians are urged to test patients for WNV if they present with fever and signs of meningitis or encephalitis, or sudden painless paralysis in the absence of stroke in the summer months.

Michigan residents are encouraged to:

- Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes out of buildings.

- Drain puddles in the yard, emptying water from mosquito breeding sites such as buckets, troughs, barrels, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes lay eggs.

- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active.

- Wear light colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.

- Apply insect repellants that contain the active ingredient DEET to exposed skin or clothing, always following the manufacturer's directions for use.

Collection of information on the sightings of sick and dead wild birds and mammals is necessary for monitoring the risk of WNV to humans, wildlife and domestic animals. For rapid reporting of a sighting, please use the web-based reporting form by visiting the state's website at www.michigan.gov/westnilevirus.

For those without Internet access, you may use your local library to access the Internet or call the statewide toll-free number at: 1-888-668-0869 for updated information about WNV.