BAY COUNTY, Mich. – Health officials have identified Michigan’s first mosquito-borne virus of 2022: the Jamestown Canyon virus.
Mosquitoes recently collected in Bay County tested positive for the virus at a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services laboratory. These were the first infected mosquitoes detected in the the state this year, experts said.
Last year, six Michiganders got sick from Jamestown Canyon virus. There were also 46 cases of West Nile virus and one case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, according to the state.
The Jamestown Canyon virus is spread when people get bit by infected mosquitoes -- usually between late spring through mid-fall. Mosquitoes become infected by feeding on deer or other animals that have the virus in their blood.
Illness can develop within a few days to two weeks following a bite from an infected mosquito, experts said.
Most people infected with Jamestown Canyon virus don’t get sick, but possible symptoms include fever, headache, and fatigue, officials said. In rare cases, the virus can cause severe brain or spinal cord disease, such as encephalitis and meningitis.
“It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause a severe illness,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “We urge Michiganders to take precautions such as using an EPA-registered insect repellent when outdoors, avoiding areas where mosquitoes are present, if possible, and wearing clothing to cover arms and legs to prevent bites.”
The Jamestown Canyon virus can be found throughout the United States, but cases have been increasing specifically in the Midwest.
Here are some tips from MDHHS to protect yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses:
- Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other EPA-approved products to exposed skin or clothing. Always follow 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.
- 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.