Summer Weather is Back, and so is West Nile Virus

Every year since 2001, Michigan communities have been affected by West Nile virus. This illness is most commonly caused by mosquito bites, which means that if someone lives in an area with mosquitos, they are at risk of getting the virus. Those who work or play outside are at the greatest risk. West Nile virus is not spread from person to person contact such as hugging, kissing, touching, or caring for someone with the virus.

Most people (70 to 80 percent) who have been exposed to West Nile virus do not get sick. When symptoms do occur they appear three to fifteen days after becoming infected from a mosquito bite. Symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, and sometimes skin rash and/or swollen glands. In some cases, the virus can cause encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, which can be fatal or cause permanent damage. If anyone develops any of these symptoms, they should call their health care provider.

The risk of contracting West Nile virus can be lowered if individuals follow these preventative tips:

  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. Visit https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you to see what repellents are EPA registered.
  • Wear long sleeved shirts and pants. Dress children in long sleeved clothing as well.
  • Use mosquito netting over strollers, cribs, beds, and when sleeping outside.
  • Install screens or repair holes in screens around one’s home to keep mosquitos outside.
  • Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, tightly cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers. Mosquitoes lay eggs in water. If you have a septic tank, be sure to repair cracks or gaps.
  • Indoor and outdoor sprays to kill mosquitoes are also available. If used, be sure to follow instructions carefully. Dying or dead birds may indicate West Nile virus in your community, because they are carriers of the virus. If someone sees a dying or dead bird, they should report it to https://secure1.state.mi.us/ORS/Survey/4.

For more information on West Nile virus, individuals can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/westnile or the Barry-Eaton District Health Department’s website at https://www.barryeatonhealth.org/bats-ticks-mosquitoes-and-animal-bites.

-From the Barry-Eaton District Health Department

Article posted on June 6th, 2019.