Officials: West Nile virus found in Warren mosquitoes

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

A collection of mosquitoes has tested positive for the West Nile virus in Warren, according to Macomb County officials.

The batch is the first to test positive this year in the county, officials said. The news followed previous positive tests in Oakland County and other areas throughout Michigan. The first human West Nile case this year was reported in July in Livingston County.

Wednesday’s announcement also came just days after Oakland County officials revealed a blood donor had tested positive for the infection.

The virus is transmitted to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito, officials said. Most people will not experience serious illness; however individuals 50 years or older may be susceptible to complications that include encephalitis and meningitis.

Mayor Jim Fouts said in a statement Wednesday that one mosquito from the batch tested positive for West Nile. He also outlined his city’s strategy to fight the spread of the virus.

Steps include installing “larvicidal briques,” which kill mosquitoes in their larvae stage, into 17,500 catch basins throughout the city. Residents also may request pellets be dropped into catch basins in their own backyards, Fouts said.

“August is the prime month for the spread of the mosquito-borne virus,” he said. “We have to take action immediately before this becomes an epidemic.”

Fouts said he supports President Barack Obama’s proposal to Congress for $1.2 billion to help develop an anti-virus vaccine.

Meanwhile, Fouts has directed all city inspectors, police and firefighters to watch for standing water, especially around apartments and condominium complexes and city parks.

“(Standing water) must be eliminated,” Fouts said. “These are prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes.”

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Tips for avoiding West Nile

■ Use an insect repellent that contains DEET or picaridin on clothing and exposed skin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends the use of oil of lemon eucalyptus as a more natural repellent. Manufacturer’s directions should be closely followed when using these products.

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

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

■ Areas of standing water, such as buckets, flowerpots, barrels and kiddie pools, should be kept empty when not being used, to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs. Change the water regularly in pet dishes and bird baths, and keep gutters free of standing water.

■ Window and door screens should be in good repair to prevent mosquitoes from entering buildings.

■ Minimize activities where mosquitoes are present, such as shaded and wooded areas.

Sources: Macomb County and the Oakland County Health Division