Michigan communities have been affected by West Nile virus since 2001. Most commonly caused by mosquito bites, those who live in an area with mosquitos are at risk of getting the virus and those who work or play outside at the greatest risk, according to the Barry Eaton District Health Department.
Symptoms of West Nile virus occur three to fifteen days after becoming infected from a mosquito bite and include fever, headache, body aches, and sometimes skin rash and/or swollen glands. In some cases, the virus can cause encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, which can be fatal or cause permanent damage. If anyone develops any of these symptoms, they should call their health care provider.
West Nile virus is not spread from person to person contact such as hugging, kissing, touching, or caring for someone with the virus.
The risk of contracting West Nile virus can be lowered by following these preventative tips:
*Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. Visit https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you to see what repellents are EPA registered.
*Wear long sleeved shirts and pants. Dress children in long sleeved clothing as well.
*Use mosquito netting over strollers, cribs, beds, and when sleeping outside.
*Install screens, or repair holes in screens around one’s home to keep mosquitos outside.
*Mosquitoes lay eggs near water. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers.
Dying or dead birds may indicate West Nile virus in your community, because they are carriers of the virus. If someone sees a dying or dead bird, they should report it to https://secure1.state.mi.us/ORS/Survey/4. For more information on West Nile virus, individuals can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/ or the Barry-Eaton District Health Department’s website at https://www.barryeatonhealth.org/bats-ticks-mosquitoes-and-animal-bites.