10 Additional Michigan Birds Test Positive For WNV

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

June 8, 2004

Although Michigan still has no reported human cases, researchers have identified 10 new birds in six Michigan counties that have tested positive for the West Nile Virus (WNV).

Health department officials throughout the state have now found a total of 11 dead crows that have tested positive for WNV in Saginaw, Allegan, Missaukee, Van Buren, Livingston, and Iosco Counties. The state’s first WNV positive bird was found in Saginaw County in early May.

“Record rainfall in many parts of the state this spring has made conditions favorable for increased mosquito activity,” said Janet Olszewski, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. “We urge citizens to exercise appropriate precautions and limit their exposure to mosquitoes, especially when planning extended outdoor activities.”

People over 50 years of age are most at risk for serious WNV illness. Physicians are urged to test patients for WNV during the summer months if they present with fever and signs of meningitis or encephalitis, or sudden painless paralysis not related to a stroke.

In 2002, Michigan reported 644 human cases of WNV with 51 deaths. In contrast, Michigan was lightly impacted by WNV in 2003, with only 19 human cases and two deaths reported. It is difficult to predict the impact WNV may have on Michigan in 2004.

In addition to the testing of dead crows, blue jays, and ravens, WNV surveillance efforts include collecting information about dead bird sightings. Citizens can report dead bird sightings on Michigan’s WNV website at www.michigan.gov/westnilevirus. In addition, all 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 flowerpots, pet bowls, rain gutters, swimming pool covers, barrels, cans, or any other areas where water can collect.
  • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active (dawn and dusk).
  • 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. (Avoid applying repellent to children less than two years of age, and to the hands of older children because repellents may be transferred to the eyes or mouth potentially causing irritation or adverse health effects).