LANSING (WWJ) – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the state’s first human case of West Nile virus for 2016.
The resident, who has not been publicly identified, was described as an older adult from Livingston County. He or she is currently recovering, according to officials.
To date, 13 birds have tested positive for the virus, and three infected “mosquito pools” have been detected in Oakland and Saginaw counties.
Health experts say infected birds and mosquitoes can provide an early warning of the virus
In 2015, multiple human cases of WNV were confirmed in Michigan during what experts said was one of the worst summers for mosquitoes in the state in years. An 81-year-old Oakland County woman died of what was one of three confirmed cases last year in that county.
Officials say residents can stay healthy by using simple, effective strategies to protect themselves and their families. In particular, citizens are advised to use mosquito repellent products containing EPA-approved active ingredients, such as DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
Also, wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors whenever possible.
“Hot, dry summers are ideal for the mosquito that transmits West Nile virus, and this case is an important reminder to stay vigilant against mosquito bites throughout the summer,” said Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive at the MDHHS. “All residents older than six months of age should use repellent and take extra care during peak mosquito-biting hours between dusk and dawn.”
Draining standing water and making sure door and window screens are in good repair will also help keep mosquitoes out of the home. Property owners should consider using biological controls for small lakes and ponds you own, such as Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), which is available at many stores.
When applying insect repellents, health officials say it’s important to keep the following guidelines in mind:
• Before applying repellent, read all label directions; not all repellents are intended to be applied to the skin.
• Repellents with low concentrations (10 percent or below) are effective and may be preferred in most situations. Start with a low-concentration product and re-apply if necessary.
• If applying repellents over a long period of time, alternate the repellent with one having another active ingredient.
Most people who become infected with West Nile virus will not develop any symptoms of illness, according to health officials. However, some become sick three to 15 days after exposure. About one-in-five infected persons will have mild illness with fever, and about one in 150 infected people will become severely ill.
Mild illness may include headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting diarrhea, or rash. Severe symptoms of WNV are associated with encephalitis or meningitis, and may include: include stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, convulsions and paralysis. People 50 and older are more susceptible to severe WNV disease symptoms.
For information about West Nile virus activity in Michigan and to report sick or dead birds, visit www.michigan.gov/westnile.