West Nile Virus Outbreak Continues, With 8 Confirmed Cases in Macomb County
Health officials are encouraging residents to take precautions against mosquito bites, and watch for signs of the virus.
Confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in Michigan this year are already double 2011 numbers, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health Communicable Disease Division.
As of Aug. 22, there had been 60 confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in Michigan, including two deaths. More than 1,000 have been reported nationwide.
In Macomb County, there have been eight confirmed cases; six in Oakland County; 21 in Wayne County, 8 of which were in Detroit, and one of which was fatal. The majority of those cases developed in August.
According to the Wayne County Department of Public Health, mosquito populations typically peak in late August. However, an unseasonably hot summer contributed to earlier development of the state's mosquito population.
The 2012 outbreak is the highest number of WNV cases nationally since 1999, according to the Oakland County Health Division.
“With these new cases of West Nile virus in Wayne County, it is especially important to take precautionary measures against becoming infected,” Dr. Mouhanad Hammami, Acting Director/Health Officer of the Wayne County Department of Public Health, said in a statement.
Facts and Tips About West Nile Virus
Mosquitoes that are known to transmit WNV are most active from dusk to dawn. However, they may also be active during the day in wooded and shaded areas. Long sleeve shirts and long pants provide some protection; in addition people should use insect repellent on exposed skin.
Residents are encouraged to take the following steps to avoid WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses:
- Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes out of buildings
- Empty water from mosquito breeding sites such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes lay eggs
- Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active
- Wear light colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors
- Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or other EPA-approved repellents to exposed skin or clothing, always following the manufacturer's directions for use
Most people bitten by a WNV-infected mosquito show no symptoms of illness. However, some become sick three to 15 days after exposure. About one in five infected persons will have mild illness with fever. About one in 150 infected people will become severely ill. Symptoms of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and meningitis (inflammation of the spinal cord and brain linings) include stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, convulsions and paralysis.
Persons experiencing symptoms suggestive of WNV should see their health
care provider promptly.
For more information, visit the Macomb County Public Health West Nile FAQs page, or call the health department at 586-469-5236.