As a result of a massive mosquito surveillance project conducted by the environmental health division at the Kent County Health Department (KCHD), this season’s first positive specimen of West Nile Virus (WNV) has been discovered. This is not a human case.
The positive sample was found in a pool of tested mosquitoes from the zip code 49504 in the city of Grand Rapids. The sample that yielded the positive result was collected between Tuesday July 28th and Thursday July 30, 2015.
The Kent County Health Department has been capturing and testing mosquitoes in 11 traps strategically placed throughout the county since early June. The traps, known as a Gravid trap, were placed in the 49503, 49504, 49507 and 49519 zip codes. That work will continue until Labor Day.
“This finding is significant because this is our first alert to the presence of West Nile as it begins to surface at this time of the year,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer with KCHD. “The fact that we have found West Nile in only one area does not mean that it is confined to that Zip Code. We expect West Nile to be present to some degree until the first frost. We want people to be aware that they can greatly reduce their own risks by taking some simple precautions.”
Prevention is critical in the fight against WNV, an illness that can be deadly in some people, especially those with weakened immune systems and the elderly. 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.
West Nile Virus was first detected in the United States in 1999. Since the first case was diagnosed in Michigan in 2001, more than 1,100 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 www.cdc.gov/westnile.