Michigan Confirms First Human West Nile Virus Case in 2004

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

June 25, 2004

State health officials confirmed the first human West Nile Virus (WNV) case in Kalamazoo County on Friday.

Dr. Matthew Boulton, Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive, said WNV was found in a 43-year-old male from Kalamazoo County. He was admitted to a hospital for treatment and was released approximately one week later.

Boulton said Michigan is only the eighth state in the nation to see a human case of WNV and the first state in the Midwest to report a human case this year.

“The appearance of WNV in a human has come slightly earlier than we have seen the previous two years,” Boulton said. “We urge the public to take the appropriate precautions and limit exposure to mosquitoes as much as possible.”

Local health department officials echoed Boulton’s sentiments.

“With the confirmation of our first human case we are again reminding the public to be vigilant about protecting themselves against mosquito bites,” said Kalamazoo County Human Services Department Director Dr. Roger Vander Schie. “It’s crucial that we step up our efforts to educate the community about the spread of this disease.”

So far this year, WNV has been identified in 37 birds in Michigan from 13 counties, including Kalamazoo. Additionally, the virus was found this week in one group of mosquitoes that transmit the virus to humans.

Most people infected with WNV develop no symptoms of illness, but about 20 percent may become sick with a fever, headache and body aches three to 14 days after receiving a bite from an infected mosquito. Rarely, persons infected with WNV may develop more severe disease including encephalitis and sometimes death.

Individuals with fever and signs of encephalitis and/or meningitis should be tested for WNV. Symptoms of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and meningitis (inflammation of the spinal cord and brain linings) include severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, convulsions and paralysis. WNV is spread almost exclusively to humans by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water and eggs take seven to 10 days to hatch.

By incorporating weekly checks for potential mosquito breeding sites into their lawn and garden routine, residents can help cut down on the mosquito population in and around their home. In addition, wearing protective clothing and using a product containing DEET when outdoors can help reduce the risk of mosquito bites.

For more information on the latest WNV developments in the state, access the State of Michigan’s West Nile Virus site at www.michigan.gov/westnilevirus.