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Human cases of West Nile Virus reported


Michigan health officials have identified the state’s first confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) for 2015 in Macomb, Monroe, and Ottawa counties, and are reminding people to protect themselves against mosquito bites.

“We have clear evidence that West Nile virus is present in the state again this summer,” says Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Even late in the season, remembering to take a few minutes to protect ourselves and our loved ones from mosquito bites when outside can make a big difference.”

Statewide, 57 birds have tested positive for WNV so far this season, and 11 WNV positive mosquito pools have been detected form Bay, Kent, Oakland, Saginaw, and Wayne counties. Infected birds and mosquitoes can provide an early warning of WNV activity in a community. For the most current information on mosquito-borne virus activity in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/westnilevirus.

Michigan residents are encouraged to take the following steps to avoid WNV:

  • Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes lay eggs.
  • Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.
  • Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other EPA approved product to exposed skin or clothing, and always following the manufacturer’s directions for use.
  • Wear light colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.

Take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours between dusk and dawn. Use repellent and protective clothing, or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.

Choose a repellent concentration rated for the time you will spend outdoors. When applying repellent to children, apply it to your own hands and rub them on the child. Avoid the eyes and mouth and do not apply to children’s hands because they sometimes put their hands in their mouths. Do not apply repellents to infants under 6 months of age and instead place nets over strollers and baby carriers.

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. About one in 150 infected people will become severely ill.

Symptoms of WNV include: 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.

People 50 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.  For more information and surveillance activity about WNV, visit www.michigan.gov/westnilevirus.

According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, people can stay healthy by using simple, effective strategies to protect themselves and their families by reading and following all repellant label directions. MDARD also urges residents to consider using biological controls for small lakes and ponds you own, such as Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), which is available at many stores.

There is an effective vaccine for horses and MDARD reminds horse owners to work with their local veterinarian to determine appropriate vaccination status. Because dawn and dusk are worst time for mosquitoes, it is also recommended that horses be kept inside at those times, and it’s important to remove any stagnant water from the premises.

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Reduce exposure to mosquitoes to reduce risk of West Nile Virus

Macomb man dies of West Nile virus

(Grand Rapids, MI)—The recent changes in the weather have created ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes, increasing their population. The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) reminds residents to reduce their risk of West Nile Virus (WNV) by reducing their exposure to mosquitoes.
Although no human cases of the disease have yet been reported in Kent County, the Michigan Department of Community Health has identified a 48-year-old man from Macomb County as the state’s first probable case of West Nile Virus for 2011. The 48-year-old man was hospitalized earlier this month after showing symptoms and has since died. Because West Nile Virus is considered endemic in West Michigan, some level of infection in humans, birds, and mosquitoes are expected every year. County health officials say it is impossible to predict the number of WNV cases each year and that the months of August and September are when most human cases of WNV occur.
Since it is impossible to know how a person might react to the West Nile Virus, and whether or not any individual may become severely ill, KCHD recommends reducing exposure to mosquitoes to reduce the potential risk of WNV infection and illness. Specifically:
• Use insect repellent containing DEET. Apply insect repellent to exposed skin and spray clothing with repellents since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. Insect repellents containing 10-35 percent DEET are generally effective (higher concentrations work longer but are not more effective); use a DEET concentration of 10 percent or less for children. Always read and follow manufacturers’ label directions when applying insect repellent as most are not recommended for use on children under two years of age.
• Stay indoors at dawn, dusk, and in the early evening, when mosquitoes are active.
• Wear light-colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever you are outdoors, but especially in wooded or wetland areas.
• Make sure window and door screens are maintained in good condition to keep mosquitoes out of buildings and homes.
• Drain standing water around yards, decks, and other outdoor areas around the home. Flower pots, pet bowls, clogged rain gutters, swimming pool covers, discarded tires, buckets—anything that can hold standing water—is a site in which mosquitoes can lay eggs. Change water in bird baths every three to four days (twice a week).
• Avoid activities in areas where large numbers of mosquitoes are present.
West Nile Virus can produce a range of symptoms in humans. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms, though up to 20 percent may develop mild illness with symptoms including: fever, headache, body aches, rash and swollen lymph glands.
Approximately one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness that may be characterized by severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, and rarely, death. Persons 55 and over have the highest risk of severe disease.
The Health Department also offers educational presentations on West Nile Virus. The presentations are free of charge and available to groups of 10 or more throughout the year by calling the Health Department at (616) 632-7297.

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Ray Winnie
Intandem Credit Union


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