First West Nile Virus Activity of 2014 Detected in Michigan; Michigan Urges Citizens to "Fight the Bite" During the July 4th Holiday

Contact: Angela Minicuci 517-241-2112

For Immediate Release: July 2, 2014

LANSING, Mich. – The first West Nile virus (WNV) activity for Michigan this summer has been identified in a mosquito pool from Saginaw County. With this activity prior to the holiday, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is urging residents to apply repellents during peak mosquito biting periods such as dusk and dawn and to drain standing water around their homes.

Last year, WNV was responsible for 34 serious illnesses and two fatalities in Michigan. Nationally 2,469 WNV cases and 119 deaths were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. WNV can cause serious neurological illnesses, such as meningitis and encephalitis. Symptoms of WNV include a high fever, confusion, muscles weakness, and a severe headache.

“While everyone is at risk, adults who are 50 and older have the highest risk of illness caused by West Nile virus. Additionally, people who work in outdoor occupations like construction and landscaping are at increased risk of getting bitten by an infected mosquito,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive for the MDCH. “One bite from an infected mosquito can lead to a severe and possibly life-altering illness. Prevention is the key to protection.”

This past week a mosquito pool collected in mid-June by the Saginaw County Mosquito Abatement Commission tested positive for WNV at Michigan State University. Further, the mosquitoes that can transmit WNV are on the rise in Michigan according to the state’s mosquito control districts.

“The mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus may breed near people’s homes in storm drains, shallow ditches, retention ponds, and unused pools,” said Erik Foster, Medical Entomologist at the MDCH. “As summer temperatures rise, the mosquitoes and the virus develop more quickly so it is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites.”

People can stay healthy by using simple, effective strategies to protect themselves and their families. In particular, residents are advised to use mosquito repellent products containing EPA-approved active ingredients, such as DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Draining standing water, and making sure door and window screens are in good repair will also help keep mosquitoes out of the home.

For information about WNV 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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