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Tag Archive | "West Nile Virus"

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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Health Department launches mosquito surveillance 

A Gravid trap, lures pregnant female mosquitoes by creating a false breeding environment.

A Gravid trap, lures pregnant female mosquitoes by creating a false breeding environment.

For West Nile Virus study 

Most people would like it if mosquitoes would just go away. Staff at the Kent County Health Department is collecting them by the thousands and they want more. Now through Labor Day, KCHD will place, monitor and maintain 11 mosquito traps in the following zip codes in the county 49503, 49507 and 49519. The goal of monitoring is disease prevention, specifically West Nile Virus (WNV).

The trap, called a Gravid trap, lures pregnant female mosquitoes by creating a false breeding environment. A pungent bait of grass clippings and yeast fools the insects by attracting them with carbon dioxide, a gas found in the exhaled breath of mammals. Mosquitoes end up sucked into a nylon net by a battery operated fan.

Each week, the mosquitoes that get trapped will be returned to KCHD where they will be pulverized and tested for West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses. Results will be logged along with geographic information that will provide a nearly real time picture to health authorities.

N-West-Nile-Virus-study-gravid-trap-2“We have selected these areas because we know that in the past they have been hot spots for the West Nile Virus,” said Sara Simmonds, Supervising Sanitarian with the department’s Environmental Health division. “Given our past experience, we fully expect that we will find the presence of West Nile Virus within our community. Early detection is critical to help people protect themselves from contracting the virus.”

“Knowing where the virus is located will allow municipalities to make more informed decisions about eradication practices,” said Adam London, Administrative Health Officer with KCHD. “West Nile Virus is a potentially debilitating illness and we know that it is largely preventable through surveillance, education and action.”

West Nile Virus was first detected in the United States in 1999. Since the first case was diagnosed in Michigan in 2001 more than 1100 people have been diagnosed with the disease and 92 people have died. In 2001 and again in 2012, Kent County had the second highest number of West Nile cases in the state. More about West Nile Virus can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/ 

The best treatment for WNV is prevention. The Kent County Health Department recommends wearing a mosquito repellant that contains 10-35 percent DEET; wearing light colored clothing; and staying indoors during dusk. You can help stop mosquitoes from breeding by removing any standing water in your yard and keeping your lawn and shrubs cut.

More information about prevention can be found at https://www.accesskent.com/Health/CommDisease/pdfs/westnile_qa.pdf

A grant from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is funding the project.


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Fight the Bite this summer

Use insect repellant to keep away mosquitoes and ticks this summer.

Use insect repellant to keep away mosquitoes and ticks this summer.

As the weather warms and people begin to spend more time outdoors, it is important to take precautions against mosquito and tick bites. The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) would like to remind people, especially those spending time outdoors and children at camps, to protect themselves from mosquito or tickborne diseases.

Last year, West Nile Virus was responsible for 36 illnesses and 2 fatalities reported in Michigan. Seasonal activity varies from year to year, but mosquitoes in Michigan can carry illnesses such as West Nile virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), and ticks can carry illnesses such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Mosquito and tick-borne diseases can cause mild symptoms, severe infections requiring hospitalization, and even death.

Adults who are 50 and older have the highest risk of illness caused by West Nile Virus. In addition to presenting a greater risk for older people, EEE is more likely to cause illness in children 15 years of age or younger. People in outdoor occupations such as construction and landscaping are at increased risk of getting bitten, but the mosquito that carries WNV likes to get indoors as well. You can protect against mosquito bites by remembering to:

The West Nile virus maintains itself in nature by cycling between mosquitoes and certain species of birds. A mosquito (the vector) bites an uninfected bird (the host), the virus amplifies within the bird, an uninfected mosquito bites the bird and is in turn infected. Other species such as humans and horses are incidental infections, as they are not the mosquitoes’ preferred blood meal source. The virus does not amplify within these species and they are known as dead-end hosts.

The West Nile virus maintains itself in nature by cycling between mosquitoes and certain species of birds. A mosquito (the vector) bites an uninfected bird (the host), the virus amplifies within the bird, an uninfected mosquito bites the bird and is in turn infected. Other species such as humans and horses are incidental infections, as they are not the mosquitoes’ preferred blood meal source. The virus does not amplify within these species and they are known as dead-end hosts.

Avoid mosquito bites: Use insect repellent when outdoors especially from dusk to dawn. Look for EPA-labeled products containing active ingredients, such as DEET, Picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Reapply as needed according to label directions. Use nets or fans around outdoor eating areas to keep mosquitoes away.

Mosquito-proof homes: Fix or install window and door screens and cover or eliminate empty containers with standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs.

Help your community: Report dead birds to Michigan’s Emerging Diseases website (www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases) to help track WNV and support community-based mosquito control programs.

Vaccinate horses against West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus.

Michigan is also home to a number of tick species that will bite people. Ticks are typically found in wooded or brushy areas with tall grass and leaf litter. The ticks most commonly encountered by people in Michigan include the American dog tick which can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and the blacklegged tick which can spread a number of illnesses, including Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is considered to be an emerging disease due to the expansion of tick populations in Michigan’s western Upper and Lower Peninsulas and is the most common tick-borne disease reported in the state with 165 human cases reported in 2013,  an increase of almost 60 percent from the previous year. The period from June to September is of concern because of the poppy-seed sized nymphal-stage tick, which is responsible for much of the Lyme disease in the U.S. While rare, human cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever have also been documented in Michigan.

Many tickborne diseases have similar symptoms. See your healthcare provider if you develop signs of illness such as a fever, body aches and/or rash in the days after receiving a tick bite or recreating in tick habitat. Early recognition and treatment can decrease the chance of serious complications. You can prevent tick bites by remembering these easy steps:

Both nymphal and adult deer ticks can be carriers of Lyme disease. Nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed.

Both nymphal and adult deer ticks can be carriers of Lyme disease. Nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed.

Avoid tick-infested areas. This is especially important in May, June, and July. If you are in tick infested areas, walk in the center of trails to avoid contact with overgrown grass, brush, and leaf litter at trail edges.

Use insect repellent. Spray repellent containing DEET or Picaridin on clothes and on exposed skin. You can also treat clothes (especially pants, socks, and shoes) with permethrin, which kills ticks on contact or buy clothes that are pre-treated. Permethrin can also be used on tents and some camping gear. Do not use permethrin directly on skin. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying any repellents.

Bathe or shower. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you. Ticks can get a ride indoors on your clothes. After being outdoors, wash and dry clothing at a high temperature to kill any ticks that may remain on clothing.

Perform daily tick checks. Always check for ticks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Ticks must usually be attached for at least a day before they can transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, so early removal can reduce the risk of infection. To remove an attached tick, grasp the tick firmly and as closely to the skin as possible. With a steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from the skin. Do not be alarmed if the tick’s mouthparts remain in the skin. Cleanse the area with an antiseptic.

For more information about WNV, visit www.michigan.gov/westnilevirus. For more information about diseases carried by mosquitoes and ticks, visit www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.

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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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