OAKLAND COUNTY (WWJ) – Residents in Oakland County are being urged to protect themselves against the West Nile virus after it was found in a dead hawk.
Kathy Forzley with the Oakland County Health Division says so far there have been no human infections, but this is the second animal case in Michigan.
“When people are infected with it, it is generally a very mild disease,” said Forzley, “some people may never even know that they have West Nile virus, but for certain people within our population, primarily people over 50, they are more at risk for a very severe form of West Nile virus.”
It’s a good reminder that West Nile is present in the community and for people should take preventive measures to reduce their risk of exposure to the virus said Forzley.
“Usually we see it identified in the animal population first, followed by identification in the human population, so we will remain hopeful that we won’t see any human cases this year. But this is the time of year people are outside and mosquitoes have matured,” she cautioned.
Forzley says the hawk cannot directly transfer the virus to a human — but a mosquito which bites the infected animal could then bite a human and transfer West Nile.
More information about the West Nile virus [here].