PONTIAC (WWJ) – An 81-year-old Oakland County woman has died, the state has confirmed, due to complications from the West Nile Virus.

The woman, whose name and hometown have not been released, is the first WNV-related death in Oakland County since 2003 and the first this year in Michigan, according to officials with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

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“This is a tragic reminder of how severe West Nile Virus can be, especially for adults over 50 who are at
greater risk for severe illness,” said George Miller, director of Oakland County Department of Health and Human Services.

“We strongly encourage residents to protect themselves and family members from mosquitoes, even as we enter the fall season.”

West Nile is transmitted to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito. The risk of serious illness for most people is low. Some individuals, officials say. However, some people can develop serious illnesses such as encephalitis or meningitis after contracting the virus — especially older adults.

Several human cases of WNV have been identified in the state, including two others in Oakland County and three more in Macomb, Monroe and Ottawa counties this year.

In addition, officials said, a blood donor earlier this moth tested positive for WNV in Oakland County; and over the summer,
a crow and mosquito pools also tested positive.

Michigan residents are urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites and WNV by taking the following precautions:

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• Use insect repellent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of insect repellents containing active ingredients registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Always follow manufacturer’s directions carefully.

• Be careful using repellent on the hands of children because it may irritate their eyes and

• Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and pants.

• Limit outdoor activity from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

• Avoid areas where mosquitoes may be present such as shaded and wooded areas.

• Maintain window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of buildings.

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For information about West Nile virus activity in Michigan and to report sick or dead birds, visit www.michigan.gov/westnile.