LANSING (WWJ/AP) – A wild turkey from Gratiot County in mid-Michigan has tested positive for the West Nile virus.
The state Department of Community Health says in a release Friday that the positive testing was confirmed by the Michigan State University Diagnostic Center for Population & Animal Health.
So far, the turkey is the first animal in the state to test positive this year for the disease.
Mosquitoes can carry and transmit the virus which was responsible for 202 illnesses and 17 deaths in Michigan last year in Michigan –the worst year for West Nile Virus infections in Michigan since 2003. That number was up significantly from 2011, when there were only 34 documented cases of West Nile Virus in Michigan, and in 2010 when there were 29 reported cases.
Nationally, more than 5,600 West Nile virus cases and 286 deaths were reported last year to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Officials at the Centers of Disease Control say the best way to prevent West Nile Virus is to avoid mosquito bites:
•Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. Use repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and para-menthane-diol (PMD) because these repellents provide longer-lasting protection than other products. Always follow the instructions on the label.
•Wear long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when many mosquitoes are most active.
•Repair or install screens on windows and doors. Use air conditioning, if you have it.
•Help reduce the numbers of mosquitoes around your home. Empty standing water from items such as gutters, flowerpots, buckets, and kiddie pools. Change birdbaths weekly.
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