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Dream Cruisers, Festival Goers Warned Of West Nile Virus Dangers

PONTIAC (WWJ) – The Oakland County Health Department is warning people at large outdoor gatherings, such as the Dream Cruise, Renaissance Festival and Arts Beats & Eats, about West Nile Virus.

The county says it’s confirmed two human cases of the virus this year. So far, there have been 17 cases of the mosquito-borne illness statewide, including one death in Washtenaw County. Nationally, the number of cases is 693 including 23 deaths, the largest spike in West Nile Virus activity since 2004.

Kathy Forzley, OCHD manager and health officer, said it’s important for residents use insect repellent to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites during outdoor activities.

Residents are encouraged to take the following steps to avoid the West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses while outside:

  • 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, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or other EPA approved repellent to exposed skin or clothing, always following the manufacturer’s directions for use

Most people bitten by a West Nile-infected mosquito show no 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. About one in 150 infected people will become severely ill. People 50 and older are more susceptible to severe West Nile Virus disease symptoms.

Symptoms of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and meningitis (inflammation of the spinal cord and brain linings) include stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, convulsions and paralysis.

For more information, visit the Oakland County Health Division website at www.oakgov.com/health.

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