Michigan health officials have identified an Oakland County man as the state’s first confirmed human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) for 2012. Due to an unusually warm and dry spring and summer, mosquitoes that can transmit West Nile hatched early and are on the rise in Michigan, according to the state's mosquito control districts. West Nile can cause serious neurological illnesses, such as meningitis and encephalitis.
While Ingham County has no human cases of WNV, Ingham County residents are encouraged to take the following steps to avoid WNV:
• Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes out of buildings.
• Empty water from mosquito breeding sites such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes lay eggs.
• Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
• Wear light colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
• Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other EPA approved repellent to exposed skin or clothing, always following the manufacturer’s directions for use.
Most people bitten by a WNV infected mosquito show no symptoms of illness. However, some become sick three to 15 days after exposure. About one-in-five infected persons will have mild illness with fever. About one in 150 infected people will become severely ill. Symptoms of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and meningitis (inflammation of the spinal cord and brain linings) include stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, convulsions and paralysis.
People 50 years old and older are more susceptible to severe WNV disease symptoms. Physicians are urged to test patients for WNV if they present with fever and signs of meningitis or encephalitis, or sudden painless paralysis in the absence of stroke in the summer months.