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Health officials: 81-year-old Oakland County woman dies due to West Nile Virus

Health officials say woman died due to complications from virus

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OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed an 81-year-old woman from Oakland County died due to complications from West Nile Virus (WNV), the Oakland County Health Division announced Friday morning.

She is the first human WNV-related death in Oakland County since 2003 and the first this year in Michigan.

"This is a tragic reminder of how severe West Nile Virus can be, especially for adults over 50 who are at greater risk for severe illness," said George Miller, director of Oakland County Department of Health and Human Services. "We strongly encourage residents to protect themselves and family members from mosquitoes, even as we enter the fall season."

Oakland County health officials announced last week it received laboratory confirmation from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services of two human cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in the county.

"All residents are strongly urged to follow prevention tips to protect themselves from WNV, especially those who are 50 and older who are more susceptible to severe symptoms," said Kathy Forzley OCHD manager/health officer. "Most people infected with WNV do not have any symptoms, but for those who do become sick, the disease can be serious, even fatal."

So far this year, two mosquito pools, a crow and a blood donor have also tested positive for WNV. Earlier this month, Michigan health officials identified the state's first confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus for 2015 in Macomb, Monroe, and Ottawa counties. Other cases were confirmed in Wayne County, but are not considered human cases.

Follow these tips to prevent WNV:

• Use insect repellent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of insect repellents containing active ingredients registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Always follow manufacturer's directions carefully.
• Be careful using repellant on the hands of children because repellents may irritate their eyes and mouths.
• Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and pants.
• Limit outdoor activity from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
• Avoid areas where mosquitoes may be present such as shaded and wooded areas.
• Maintain window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of buildings.
• Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water that collects in birdbaths, boats, buckets, tires, unused pools, roof gutters and other containers.