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Recommendations to vote safely during COVID-19


Recommendations to vote safely during COVID-19

LANSING, Mich. –To ensure Michigan voters remain healthy and reduce the spread of COVID-19 during the Nov. 3 general election, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has released recommendations for voters, poll workers and election officials.

“This guidance allows Michiganders to carry out their right to vote while doing it safely during the pandemic,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “I encourage registered voters to consider voting alternatives to limit the number of people they come in contact with and to help reduce the spread of the virus.”

“Michigan citizens can cast their ballots safely and with confidence in this election,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “All election workers are required to wear masks and all voters are strongly encouraged to do so. Voters who already have absentee ballots can drop them off at their city or township clerk’s office or ballot drop box. Voters can also go to their local clerk’s office through Nov. 2 to vote early by requesting and submitting an absentee ballot.”

All registered voters may vote early by visiting their city or township clerk’s office through Nov. 2. There they can request, fill out and submit an absentee ballot all in one trip, or take their ballot home to fill out and sign the envelope before returning it to one of their jurisdiction’s ballot drop boxes by 8 p.m. on Nov 3. Election workers, who are required to wear masks, will ask voters to show photo ID.

Eligible citizens who are not yet registered may register, request and submit an absentee ballot at their local clerk’s office through 8 p.m. on Nov. 3

When you vote or return your ballot, practice healthy behaviors to protect yourself and slow the spread of the virus. These behaviors include:

  • Wearing a mask that covers your mouth and nose.
  • Washing hands before entering and after leaving the polling location.
  • While in the polling location, frequently use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet (about two arms’ length) of distance from others.

If you are sick or concerned you have been exposed to COVID-19, seek medical care. If you don’t have an absentee ballot, contact your local election office for guidance about voting options.

Guidance is based on the most current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and MDHHS recommendations for prevention of the spread of COVID-19. Read the “Recommendations for Healthy Voting in Michigan” for more helpful tips for voting this year.

(https://www.michigan.gov/documents/coronavirus/Recommendations_for_Healthy_Voting_in_Michigan_705780_7.pdf

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Governor files motion on court ruling


By Bruce Walker—The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer filed a motion Monday requesting the Michigan Supreme Court clarify when its ruling nullifying her COVID-19 executive orders issued after April 30 takes effect.

In her motion seeking clarification for the Supreme Court’s decision, issued last Friday, Whitmer claims the ruling does not take effect for at least 28 days.

On Friday, she had stated her executive orders retained the force of law for 21 days.

The Supreme Court struck down the statute under which the governor has issued executive orders for over 200 days.

Whitmer claims an immediate ruling effect would cause up to 830,000 Michigan workers to lose unemployment benefits and cause confusion for the other orders she’s issued.

“The Supreme Court has spoken, and while I vehemently disagree with their ruling, I’m ready to work across the aisle with Republicans in the legislature where we can find common ground to slow the spread of the virus and rebuild our economy,” Whitmer said in a statement.

“It’s time for Republicans in the Legislature to get to work and start showing that they are taking this crisis seriously. They can start by canceling their October recess and getting back to work. Let’s work together and get this done.”

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon said the ruling raises legal questions and needs time to transition.

“Make no mistake, Governor Whitmer will continue using every tool at her disposal to keep Michigan families, frontline workers, and small businesses safe from this deadly virus,” Gordon said in a statement.

“The same is true for our department. We will use every statutory tool available to protect our state employees and the residents we serve. We also need Michiganders to do their part by wearing a mask, maintaining six feet of physical distancing, washing hands frequently, and getting their flu vaccine. We will get through this together.”

The Michigan Supreme Court Friday unanimously agreed Whitmer lacked authority to extend her state of emergency past April 30 without approval from the GOP-controlled legislature.

Whitmer contends her powers are still active, but in the meantime, local health departments are issuing orders.

In a July 29 executive order, Gordon cited a 1978 law, saying “Every person in this state must comply with the rules, procedures, and restrictions outlined in EO 2020-153, EO 2020-160, and EO 2020-161” – all orders issued after April 30.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s Press Secretary Ryan Jarvi, citing the Friday ruling, said they “will no longer enforce the Governor’s Executive Orders through criminal prosecution.”

“However, her decision is not binding on other law enforcement agencies or state departments with independent enforcement authority,” Jarvi said in a statement.

“It’s her fervent hope that people continue to abide by the measures that Governor Whitmer put in place – like wearing face masks, adhering to social distancing requirements and staying home when sick – since they’ve proven effective at saving lives.”

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Michigan announces first cases of COVID-19


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that two cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Michigan. Courtesy photo.

Governor Whitmer declares a state of emergency to maximize efforts to slow the spread; WHO declares it a pandemic; Michigan to get more aid from CDC

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Oakland County Health Division and Wayne County Health Department announced Tuesday that two Michigan residents tested presumptive positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the first confirmed cases in the state. The governor has declared a state of emergency to maximize efforts and assist local governments and officials to slow the spread of the virus.

“We are taking every step we can to mitigate the spread of the virus and keep Michiganders safe,” said Governor Whitmer. “I have declared a state of emergency to harness all of our resources across state government to slow the spread of the virus and protect families. It’s crucial that all Michiganders continue to take preventative measures to lower their risk, and to share this information with their friends, family, and co-workers.”

One of the cases is an adult female from Oakland County with recent international travel and the other is an adult male from Wayne County with recent domestic travel. Clinical specimens were collected and sent to the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories where both tested presumptive positive for COVID-19. Specimens will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmatory testing.

“We are taking the identification of COVID-19 in our state very seriously,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “We continue to urge Michiganders to take precautions to prevent the spread of this virus in our state.”

“This patient in Wayne County is currently under isolation. Our Public Health Division is working to identify individuals who may have come into close contact with the patient so we can take appropriate steps and monitor them closely,” said Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans. “We are continuing to collaborate with the state health department and recommend residents continue to practice prevention measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

“Oakland County and our Health Division will investigate the circumstances around this case so we understand if there are any potential close contacts,” said Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter. “We must all as individuals and communities continue our prevention and preparedness strategies as we hope for a full recovery for this member of the community.”

Local health departments will be working diligently to identify anyone who has come in close contact with these cases and recommend they be assessed for symptoms and monitored appropriately.

There are steps residents can take to prevent spread of flu and the common cold that will also help prevent coronavirus disease, including:

Washing your hands with soap and water.

Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

Avoiding contact with people who are sick.

Staying home if you are sick and contact your healthcare provider.

There is also a list of other things you can do to limit the spread of the virus on our website at www.cedarspringspost.com. Examples include disinfecting your phone, keyboard and doorknobs; shopping online; and working from home.

COVID-19 Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus. They include:

  •  Fever
  •  Cough
  •  Shortness of Breath

Updates will be posted to Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

Meanwhile the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is awarding $560 million to state and local jurisdictions to support the COVID-19 response efforts. Michigan is reportedly getting another $14,567,049.90.

“State and local health departments are on the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, and we are deeply grateful for their work,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “CDC is distributing this new funding extremely rapidly, as called for by Congress. President Trump, and his entire administration will continue working to ensure state and local jurisdictions have the resources they need to keep Americans safe and healthy.”

“Our state, local, tribal and territorial public health partners are on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. The action we are taking today will continue to support their efforts to increase public health capacity where it’s needed most,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D. “These funds will allow public health leaders to implement critical steps necessary to contain and mitigate spread of the virus in communities across the country.”

On Friday, March 6, the President signed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020. The supplemental contains $8.3 billion government-wide, with resources directed for grants or cooperative agreements to states, localities, territories, and tribes to accelerate planning and operational readiness for COVID-19 preparedness and response, as well as develop tools and strategies, provide technical assistance and program support, as well as ensure ongoing communication and coordination among public health agencies and partners throughout the response.

Today, CDC is contacting State Health Officers to move forward with awarding over $560 million to states, localities, territories, and tribes. CDC will use existing networks to reach out to state and local jurisdictions to access this initial funding.

In other COVID-19 news, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially named the virus a pandemic.

According to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China has increased 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has tripled in the last two weeks. “There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives. Thousands more are fighting for their lives in hospitals,” he said in a televised announcement.

“In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher.”

He added that WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and they are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

“We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic,” he announced. He also said it does not change anything WHO is doing because they have been in full response mode since the beginning.

He noted that of the 118,000 cases reported globally in 114 countries, more than 90 percent of cases are in just four countries; and two of those—China and the Republic of Korea—have declining epidemics. 

81 countries have not reported any cases, and 57 countries have reported 10 cases or less. 

“We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: all countries can still change the course of this pandemic,” said Dr. Tedros. 

“If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace, and mobilize their people in the response, those with a handful of cases can prevent those cases becoming clusters, and those clusters becoming community transmission.

Even those countries with community transmission or large clusters can turn the tide on this virus. 

“Several countries have demonstrated that this virus can be suppressed and controlled. The challenge for many countries who are now dealing with large clusters or community transmission is not whether they can do the same—it’s whether they will… All countries must strike a fine balance between protecting health, minimizing economic and social disruption, and respecting human rights.”

For more of his remarks visit https://www.who.int.

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Michigan resident infected with Eastern equine encephalitis


LANSING, Mich. – Health officials from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Allegan County Health Department have confirmed an infection of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in an Allegan County resident. The individual was hospitalized in late August with a neurologic illness.

EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S., with a 33 percent fatality rate. The disease can often leave survivors with lasting brain damage.

The southwestern region of the state has experienced outbreaks of this mosquito-borne disease in people and horses in the past, with the most recent outbreaks occurring in the early 1980s, mid-1990s and 2010. This is the first human case reported in Michigan since 2016, when three people were infected. Mosquito-borne illness will continue to be a risk in Michigan until late fall when nighttime temperatures consistently fall below freezing. Michigan residents are reminded to protect themselves against mosquito bites.

“There is still plenty of mosquito season left in Michigan,” said Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief medical executive. “When outdoors, Michigan residents are urged to take precautions to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites including using mosquito repellent and wearing long pants and long sleeves.”

Horse owners should note that EEE can also cause neurologic illness in horses. However, vaccination can protect horses from infection with EEE.

EEE is a virus of birds that is spread by mosquitoes near swamps and bogs. Human cases are rare, with only a few cases reported each year in the U.S. People who become ill with EEE may experience fever, headache, chills and nausea. In some cases, symptoms may progress to inflammation of the brain, signaled by disorientation, seizures and coma. Physicians treating patients with these symptoms should consider testing for EEE and other mosquito-borne viruses and should report suspected cases to their local health department.

As a reminder, West Nile virus is continuing to cause illness in people across the state, with a total of 44 cases and two fatalities reported to date. WNV has also been identified in 149 mosquito pools, 115 birds and one horse throughout the state.

Steps people should take to protect themselves include:

• Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

• Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.

• Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET or other EPA- approved product to exposed skin or clothing, always following the manufacturer’s directions for use.

• Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.

• Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes out of buildings.

• Empty water from mosquito breeding sites such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes lay eggs.

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Michigan extends “Do not eat” fish advisory for Huron River to Lake Erie 


 

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recently issued an expanded “Do not eat” fish advisory for all fish in the Huron River in Livingston, Oakland, Washtenaw, Wayne, and Monroe Counties. The original advisory was issued on August 4, 2018. 

The “Do not eat” advisory for the Huron River starts where N. Wixom Road crosses in Oakland County and extends downstream to the mouth of the Huron River as it enters Lake Erie in Wayne County. This includes: 

  • Norton Creek (Oakland County) 
  • Hubbell Pond, also known as Mill Pond (Oakland County) 
  • Kent Lake (Oakland County) 
  • Ore Lake (Livingston County) 
  • Strawberry & Zukey Lake (Livingston County) 
  • Gallagher Lake (Livingston County) 
  • Loon Lake (Livingston County) 
  • Whitewood Lakes (Livingston County) 
  • Base Line & Portage Lakes (Livingston/Washtenaw County line) 
  • Barton Pond (Washtenaw County) 
  • Geddes Pond (Washtenaw County) 
  • Argo Pond (Washtenaw County) 
  • Ford Lake (Washtenaw County) 
  • Bellville Lake (Wayne County) 

This extension is a result of new perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) fish data from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Base Line Lake and Argo Pond fish fillet data, downsteam from Kent Lake, were found to have high PFOS levels. Additionally, high PFOS surface water levels were found upstream of Kent Lake. 

Touching the fish or water and swimming in these water bodies is not considered a health concern as PFAS do not move easily through the skin. An occasional swallow of river or lake water is also not considered a health concern. 

For current guidelines relating to PFAS fish contamination, visit Michigan.gov/pfasresponse. For more information about the Eat Safe Fish guidelines, visit Michigan.gov/eatsafefish. 

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Time to get flu vaccine


Michigan residents are being urged by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to get flu vaccines to protect themselves from potentially life-threatening influenza amidst the first confirmed cases in the state.

“Now is the time to get their flu immunization to make sure they are protected from the flu season,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive for MDHHS.

“The flu should be taken seriously because it can have serious and even deadly consequences.”

Three Michigan residents tested positive for seasonal influenza—the Influenza A (H1N1) virus—in late August. A resident who attended a conference in Grand Rapids and two family members tested positive for the virus after approximately 120 attendees of the conference reported illnesses. Testing is ongoing in Michigan and in other states, as attendees of the conference were from around the country.

An annual flu vaccination is the best way to prevent getting the flu and its complications.

The flu is a contagious respiratory virus that often causes fever, sore throat, cough, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and fatigue. People already infected with the flu can spread the virus to others even before they feel sick.

Everyone 6 months of age and older should receive a flu vaccine every year.

While most people who get influenza recover, others may develop more serious complications. It is especially important that children, adults ages 65 years and older, persons with chronic health conditions, and pregnant women get vaccinated against the flu. Flu vaccination for pregnant women protects both the mother and the unborn child.

Influenza outbreaks associated with settings where people have close, prolonged contact, such as long-term care facilities, schools, college dorms, and conferences, are not uncommon during the influenza season and can even occur during times of low influenza virus circulation, such as during the summer.

Influenza testing should be considered when a patient has signs and symptoms, regardless of the season.

With many young people heading to college, it’s a good idea to get a flu vaccine before heading to campus.

There is no way to know when flu activity will be widespread in communities, which is why Michigan residents should get vaccinated against the flu now before they are exposed to a flu virus. It takes about two weeks to be fully protected after vaccination.

For more information about vaccinations in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/immunize and www.michigan.gov/flu. To find a vaccine near you, visit http://vaccine.healthmap.org/.

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Women urged to prevent congenital heart defects in newborns 


 

More than 333,000 babies screened for heart disease since 2014 

To help prevent congenital heart defects, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Newborn Screening Program is urging women to take preventative steps before, during and after pregnancy, including newborn screening. 

Congenital heart defects are one of the most common birth defects and leading cause of birth defect-related deaths. Present at birth, the defects affect the structure and function of the heart. These defects can be detected with a pulse oximeter during newborn screening. Since April 2014, when this screening became a part of the Newborn Screening Panel, more than 333,000 babies born in Michigan have been screened for critical congenital heart disease. 

 “Michigan babies are greatly benefiting from a simple, painless screen done at 24 hours of life,” said Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS’ chief medical officer. “With technology and treatment for these conditions improving, if diagnosed early, children with serious congenital heart defects have the potential to lead normal, healthy lives. “ 

It is important for parents to know that newborn screening cannot identify every child with a critical heart problem. Warning signs that all parents should watch for are: bluish color of the lips or skin, grunting, fast breathing, poor feeding and poor weight gain. 

Some congenital heart defects have only a minor and brief effect on a baby’s health and some have very serious and life-long effects and can cause early death. Public awareness, accurate diagnosis and expert medical care are all essential for adequate management of these all too common and deadly conditions. 

Studies have reported increased risks for congenital heart defects associated with maternal obesity, diabetes and smoking. 

 “The heart forms in the early weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman realizes she is pregnant,” Wells said. “Diet, genetic and environmental factors, life-style choices, health conditions and medications all can play a role in preventing or causing congenital heart defects.” 

As part of Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week, Feb. 7-14, MDHHS is advising women who are pregnant or may become pregnant to: 

  • Avoid all alcohol and illegal/recreational drugs. 
  • Avoid exposure to smoke, chemicals and toxins, both at work and at home. 
  • Take a folic acid supplement throughout the childbearing years and check with their healthcare provider to confirm that they are getting adequate amounts of all the essential nutrients. 
  • See a physician prior to pregnancy, especially if there are medical conditions which require medications, any known metabolic conditions including diabetes, obesity, phenyketonuria (PKU), or a family history of congenital heart defects. 
  • Receive regular medical check-ups and learn about their family history and potential genetic risks. 

For more information about Michigan’s Newborn Screening Program, visit Michigan.gov/newbornscreening

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More than 300 children in foster care need adoptive homes 


Bruce is among the Michigan children who are available for adoption.

Mariah is among the Michigan children who are available for adoption.

Mariah, 15, is from Wayne County and enjoys playing cards and crocheting purses. 

Bruce, 13, is from Kent County and likes koala bears and french fries. He says he wishes for “family safety, for lots of love, and for the world to be a better place.” 

Bruce and Mariah are among the approximately 330 children in Michigan’s foster care system looking for loving adoptive homes. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is sharing their stories during November, which has been proclaimed Adoption Month in Michigan by Gov. Rick Snyder. Nov. 21 is Adoption Day in Michigan. 

Anyone interested in adopting from foster care can contact the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange at 800-589-6273 or see biographies and photos of children available for adoption, including Bruce and Mariah, at www.mare.org

MDHHS, in partnership with adoption agencies and the courts, works to find and create forever families through adoption. In fiscal year 2017, more than 1,900 children were adopted from the Michigan foster care system. 

“All children should have permanent homes to call their own,” said MDHHS Director Nick Lyon. “We appreciate the love and stability provided by our adoptive families and hope that more Michiganders will open their hearts to adoption.” 

People can adopt whether they’re single or married. They don’t have to be wealthy or own their own home, but must have adequate financial resources to provide for a family. 

Children in the foster care system become eligible for adoption following termination of parental rights due to abuse or neglect. There are about 13,000 children in the foster care system, but the goal for most of these children is reunification with their families. 

New families are becoming “official” at Adoption Day ceremonies around the state this month, including Nov. 21 at the Michigan Supreme Court Hall of Justice in Lansing. 

Details can be found on the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange Adoption Day 

webpage, along with profiles of outstanding adoptive families and wishes being granted to the families this month. 

For more information about adoption in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/adoption

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First human cases of West Nile virus for 2017 confirmed in Michigan



Activity is high throughout the State 

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed the state’s first human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) for 2017.  Four cases of WNV have been confirmed; two residents of Montcalm County, and one each from Oakland and Macomb Counties.  Their illness onsets range from August 6-11, and all have been hospitalized with neurologic disease.

“This is an important reminder to stay vigilant and protect against mosquito bites throughout the summer and into the fall,” said Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive at the MDHHS.  “All residents should take steps to prevent bites, such as use repellent and take extra care during peak mosquito-biting hours between dusk and dawn.”

Surveillance for mosquito-borne diseases is being conducted by the MDHHS and Departments of Natural Resources (MDNR) and Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).  In 2017, WNV activity appears to be widespread statewide in Michigan. In addition to the four human cases, five Michigan blood donors have had WNV detected in their blood.

To date, 148 birds have tested positive for WNV from 44 of Michigan’s 83 counties.  In addition, 86 WNV positive mosquito pools have been detected in seven Michigan counties. MDARD has reported eight horses that have tested positive for WNV (Clinton, Jackson, Livingston, Missaukee, Mecosta, Midland, Ottawa, and Wexford Counties). Also one horse has tested positive for Eastern Equine encephalitis virus (Wexford County). Vaccination is the best way to protect horses from both WNV and EEE. Horse owners should work with their veterinarian to make sure their horse is properly vaccinated. Finding infected birds, mosquitoes and horses in a community is an indication of risk for human infection.

Most people who become infected with WNV will not develop any 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, and about one in 150 infected people will become severely ill.

Mild illness may include headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting diarrhea, or rash. Severe symptoms of WNV are associated with encephalitis or meningitis, and may include: stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, convulsions and paralysis. People 50 and older are more susceptible to severe WNV disease symptoms.

Residents can stay healthy by using simple, effective strategies to protect themselves and their families. The following steps are recommended to avoid WNV and other mosquito-borne diseases:

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.

For more information and surveillance activity about West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne viruses, visit www.michigan.gov/westnilevirus.

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KCHD urges caution as bat and human interactions increase in August 


This bat was captured on August 17, 2017 in Kent County.

This bat was captured on August 17, 2017 in Kent County.

In the past several days the Kent County Health Department (KCHD) has started to receive reports from people who have had contact with bats indoors. While these types of encounters are not uncommon in August, any direct contact with a bat represents a potential exposure to rabies.

It is critically important to capture the bat for testing if there is reason to believe a person may have been bitten or scratched by a bat. Do not release a bat if you find it in the room of a sleeping person, an unattended child, someone who is mentally impaired or an intoxicated individual as they may have been bitten without their knowledge.

A captured bat in Kent County will be sent to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for testing. If the bat tests negative for rabies, then no treatment is required. However, if a bat tests positive, or if the bat is not available for testing then the exposed person should receive the post-exposure prophylaxis for rabies.

To safely capture a bat, experts recommend that you wear leather gloves to avoid being bit. Place a box or a coffee can over the bat and then slide a piece of cardboard under the container to trap the bat inside. Secure it with a piece of tape and contact the Kent County Health Department at 616-632-7200 during regular business hours. If you know that you have been bitten or scratched by the bat and the exposure has occurred outside of normal business hours, seek medical attention but keep the bat.

While relatively rare in the United States, human cases of rabies are almost always associated with bats.

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system and is invariably fatal once symptoms appear.

“Bat encounters rise every year during late August and early September,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer at KCHD. “We can’t stress enough how important it is to be able to perform tests on these animals. Unless you are certain that no one has been bitten by a bat you find in your home, please do not let it go.”

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