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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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Man and horses win world championship titles

S-Berris1Frank Berris, of Sparta, and two of his horses each captured World Championship titles last month.

Berris captured the world championship title in amateur yearling geldings at the American Quarter Horse Association 2013 Bank of America Amateur World Championship Show on Thursday, November 14 in Oklahoma City. He showed his American Quarter Horse Its Gameday. The 2012 bay gelding, sired by Mr Touchdown Kid and out of JGM Sierras Sequel, was bred by John and Gail Muirhead of Camrose, Alberta. The AQHA World Show is the pinnacle event for American Quarter Horse owners and exhibitors around the world, who must qualify for the event by earning a predetermined number of points to compete in each of the classes representing halter, English and western disciplines.

S-Berris2-aged-mares-wc-1A week later, Its Gameday captured the world championship title in yearling geldings at the 2013 American Quarter Horse Association Open World Championship Show on Friday, November 22 in Oklahoma City. The horse was shown by Ross Roark of Monahans, Texas

Berris also had another horse that won a championship title. Exceptional Playgirl captured the world championship title in aged mares at the 2013 American Quarter Horse Association Open World Championship Show on Thursday, November 21 in Oklahoma City. She was shown by Luke Castle of Wayne, Oklahoma.

S-Berris3-yrlg-geldings-wc-1Exceptional Playgirl is a 2009 black mare. Exceptional Playgirl, sired by The Exceptional One and out of Playgirls Lady, was bred by Chanci McKinnon of Rosenberg, Texas.

More than 3,390 entries from the United States, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom competed for 98 world championships at this year’s event, which took place November 8-23 at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.


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West Nile Virus confirmed in horses

Residents should be diligent about mosquito control


The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) State Veterinarian Dr. James Averill confirmed West Nile Virus (WNV) in two horses last week—one in Kent County and one in Ingham County—and reminds owners to get their horses vaccinated against the disease. WNV is a mosquito-borne disease affecting both humans and animals causing influenza-like symptoms and hospitalization in infants and older people who may be weak from other illnesses.

“Horses can be sentinel animals for what is going on around us. If a horse is sick, you can be sure there is reason to be cautious,” Averill said. “Signs of WNV in horses may include stumbling, tremors, skin twitching, struggling to get up, and facial paralysis, difficulty passing urine, a high temperature, impaired vision, and seizures. This is a very serious illness, and horses may ultimately have to be euthanized.”

Since West Nile Virus is spread to horses through the bite of an infected mosquito, protection measures reducing exposure to mosquito bites should be adopted. Horse owners should follow these tips to prevent mosquito-borne illness:

1. Vaccinate. WNV vaccines are inexpensive and readily available. It is not too late.

2. Use approved insect repellants to protect horses and follow label instructions.

3. If possible, put horses in stables, stalls, or barns, preferably under fans.

4. Eliminate standing water and drain troughs, and large containers at least once a week.

As of September 9, 12 human cases of WNV had been reported in Michigan in various counties. Blood donor screening provides an important early warning of WNV activity. Most people who are infected with WNV do not develop an illness, but the virus might be temporarily present in their blood. Because people may not know they have been infected, all donated blood is screened and samples are reported as “probable” cases, pending follow-up and testing of the donors. Last year, 202 WNV human illnesses and 17 human fatalities were reported in Michigan.

In addition, birds from 46 out of Michigan’s 83 counties have been found dead and reported to have WNV. Five counties also identified WNV positive mosquito pools (Bay, Kent, Midland, Saginaw, and Tuscola) from 3,128 mosquito pools and 43,393 mosquitoes tested.

Michigan is screening for five arboviruses: West Nile Virus, St. Louis Encephalitis,  Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), LaCrosse Encephalitis , or Powassan. The only mosquito-borne viruses that appear to be active right now are EEE (reported in a Van Buren County horse last week) and WNV. See up to date info at  www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.

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