SAGINAW COUNTY - The first West Nile virus activity of 2018 in Michigan was confirmed in mosquitoes collected in Saginaw County late last month, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced.
Health officials said it's important for residents to prevent mosquito bites now that the warmer weather is here. People age 60 or older have a higher risk of getting seriously ill from West Nile virus.
"Use insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites when outdoors," Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief medical executive, said. "It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause a severe illness, so take extra care during peak mosquito-biting hours, which are dusk and dawn."
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Health officials said most people who contract the virus have no clinical symptoms but could get sick three to 15 days after the bite.
The virus develops more quickly as summer temperatures rise.
Symptoms of West Nile virus include high fever, confusion, muscle weakness and severe headaches. More serious complications could include neurological illnesses, such as meningitis and encephalitis.
Last year, 40 Michigan residents were diagnosed with West Nile virus and one death was reported. There were 2,002 cases and 121 deaths nationwide.
Here is advice from the MDHHS on how to prevent West Nile virus:
- Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents with one of the following ingredients: Deet, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol and 20undecanone. Follow the label instructions and apply as directed. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
- When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, light-colored long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Dress young children in clothing that covers their arms and legs and cover cribs, strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
- Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Use bed nets when sleeping outdoors or in conditions with no window screens.
- Once a week, eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding around your home, including water in bird baths, abandoned swimming pools, wading pools, old tires and any other object holding water.
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