West Nile virus detected in residents of Macomb, Oakland counties

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

This year's first cases of West Nile virus in humans has been found in Oakland and Macomb counties, state officials said Friday.

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services urged Michiganians to take precautions to avoid contracting the disease and other illnesses from mosquito bites. The department said the risk for mosquito-borne illness rises across the state over the course of the mosquito season, which peaks in August and September. 

State officials said West Nile virus, which is transmitted to humans by mosquitos, has been detected in Macomb and Oakland county residents.

They said mosquitoes collected in the past week in Detroit as well as Bay, Kent, Macomb, Midland, Oakland and Wayne counties have tested positive for West Nile virus and Jamestown Canyon virus. Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus was also identified in a sick deer in Livingston County.

"It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause a severe illness, so take extra care during peak mosquito-biting hours, which are dusk and dawn," Joneigh Khaldun, the department's chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health, said in a statement. "As we head into the holiday weekend and beyond, we urge Michiganders to take precautions such as using insect repellant and wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants when outdoors during those time periods."

Last month, the state's first cases of West Nile virus for 2021 were found in animal and mosquito populations. 

Last week, officials said the disease was detected in a single sampling of mosquitoes in Macomb County

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans through bites from infected mosquitoes. The insects become infected after feeding on birds that have the virus. Many humans who get the virus don't show any symptoms, but some may experience body aches, fever and headache. Others may develop an inflammation of the brain or an inflammation of the brain's lining and spinal cord.

To avoid being bitten by mosquitos, state officials recommend residents: 

► Use insect repellent that contains DEET or picardin on clothing and exposed skin.

► Limit limit outdoor activities and wear pants and long sleeves along with using repellent in the hours between dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most active.

► Eliminate areas of standing water, such as unused buckets, flower pots, barrels or children’s pools around yards to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs.

► Keep window and door screens maintained to prevent mosquitoes from entering homes and buildings.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez