Mosquitoes carrying West Nile pose potential threat to public
OSCEOLA COUNTY — County residents are encouraged to be vigilant about avoiding mosquito bites this season as health officials are reporting mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus (WNV) throughout the state.
Jennifer Morse M.D., medical director for District Health Department No. 10, said recent reports from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) showed more than 40 mosquito pools throughout seven counties in Michigan testing positive for WNV.
According to the report from MDHHS, the counties which have tested positive include Huron, Ingham, Kent, Oakland, Saginaw, Tuscola and Wayne.
Morse explained it is typical to see higher numbers of mosquitoes carrying this virus each year in southern and eastern counties, such as those listed, rather than in Mecosta County and other areas in northern Michigan.
The Kent County Health Department issued an advisory Tuesday, Aug. 14, about the potential for West Nile illnesses in the county and surrounding area.
At this time, no one in Kent County has contracted the disease, but the department reported programs to trap and test mosquitoes have shown “unusually high” numbers of mosquitoes testing positively.
Although there currently are no mosquito pools testing positively for WNV in Osceola County, Morse said it is still important to take precautions to avoid potentially contracting the virus.
“Nothing is a hundred percent, but there are ways to avoid being bit,” she said.
Health officials recommend the following:
• Applying insect repellent containing the active ingredient DEET and always following the manufacturer’s directions for use on the label.
• Draining standing water on a person’s property, including emptying water from flower pots, pet bowls and clogged rain gutters as these pools of water are where mosquitoes breed.
• Avoid being outside at dusk and dawn when mosquito activity is high.
• Wear light colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
Morse explained although most people infected with WNV do not show the signs, about one in five people who are infected do develop symptoms such as a fever or headache.
Other indicators of being infected include body aches, joint pains and fatigue, and if the illness become serious enough it can cause death.
She added symptoms are most commonly seen in people over the age of 50, so it is especially important this demographic take precautions when outside as there are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people.