SAGINAW (WWJ/AP) – Michigan health officials say they’ve confirmed the presence of mosquitoes with the West Nile virus for the first time this season.
The Michigan Department of Community Health reported Wednesday that tests confirmed the presence of the virus in a mosquito pool in Saginaw County in mid-June.
The department says that the virus killed two people and caused 34 serious illnesses in the state in 2013. The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that it knows of 2,469 West Nile virus cases and 119 deaths in the U.S. last year.
Mosquitoes can be infected with the West Nile Virus by biting a bird that carries the virus. The virus can then spread to humans through the bite of the infected mosquito. Most people infected with the virus have either no symptoms or experience a mild illness such as fever, headache, and body aches. In some individuals, however, mostly the elderly, a more serious disease affecting the brain tissue may develop.
The following preventative measures help reduce the risk of West Nile Virus:
— Use insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or other EPA-approved active ingredient on skin or clothing following manufacturer’s instructions.
— Avoid shaded and wooded areas where mosquitoes may be present.
— Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and shoes when outdoors.
— Limit outdoor activity between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
— Report a sick or dead bird, or mammal, at the State of Michigan Emerging Disease Issues webpage at www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.
Residents can also reduce the mosquito population by eliminating mosquito breeding sites around their home. Empty standing water from flower pots, pet bowls, clogged rain gutters, swimming pool covers, old tires, buckets, barrels, cans, and similar items where mosquitoes can lay eggs and maintain windows and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
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