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A 70-year-old Oakland County man is the first human to be diagnosed with West Nile virus in the county and the fourth in the state in 2019.

The Oakland County Health Division obtained the test results Tuesday from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

No further information is available about the patient because of health privacy laws, the Oakland County Health Division said.

“This is an important reminder that West Nile virus is present in our community,” said Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County Health Division. “We strongly encourage residents to protect themselves from mosquitoes until the first hard frost of the year.”

Most people infected with the virus either have no symptoms or experience a mild illness such as fever, headache and body aches, the health department said. 

In some individuals the disease results in inflammation and swelling of the brain can develop, the health department said. People over 50 are more likely to develop life-threatening symptoms of the virus.

The health department is offering the several instructions for residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites, which could lead to West Nile virus.

  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents, which will contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol as the active ingredient.
  • Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Limit outdoor activity from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Maintain window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of buildings. Do not prop open doors.
  • Empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs.

Several cases of eastern equine encephalitis, another mosquito-borne illness, have also been reported in Michigan this year according to the health department. There have been eight cases of the disease, with three fatalities, confirmed in southwest Michigan this year, the health department said. There have been no cases of the disease reported in Oakland County.

EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States, with a 33 percent fatality rate in people who become ill, the health department said. Those younger than 15 and over 50 have the greatest risk of severe disease following infection.

Signs of EEE include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches which can progress to a severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis according to the health department.

Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also occur in some cases, the health department said. 

ecarter@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @EvanJamesCarter

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