West Nile virus found in Oakland County mosquito pool

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News
The virus is typically spread by a mosquito that has bitten an infected bird.

Health officials have found the first evidence of West Nile virus in Oakland County so far this year, representatives reported Friday.

A mosquito pool collected in Pontiac tested positive for the virus, but no confirmed human cases of the virus have been recorded in the county, the health division said in a statement.

“Although the positive pool was found in Pontiac, this is an indicator that West Nile Virus is present in Oakland County communities,” said Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County Health Division. “Residents are encouraged to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.”

The virus is spread through bites from mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds, county officials said. Most people who are infected either have no symptoms or experience a mild illness such as fever, headache and body aches. In some cases, a more serious inflammation and brain swelling can develop.

Last year, the county confirmed its first human fatality from the virus since 2015.

To protect against infection, health officials urge residents to take precautions such as:

  • Using Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol as the active ingredient.
  • Eradicating mosquito breeding sites by removing standing water around the home and emptying items that hold it such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, pet bowls, flowerpots and trash containers. 
  • Cleaning clogged roof gutters. 
  • Treating standing water that cannot be eliminated, such as retention ponds or drainage ditches, with a mosquito larvicide.
  • Wearing protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Limiting outdoor activity from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Maintaining window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of buildings. 

For more information, go to oakgov.com/health. A nurse on call is available at 800-848-5533 or noc@oakgov.com, 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.