Last week, the Allegan County Health Department identified a case of probable non-neuroinvasive West Nile virus in an Allegan County resident.
This week, the Ottawa County Department of Public Health has confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) for 2018 in Ottawa County.
Health officials urge residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites to reduce their risk for the virus.
West Nile is most commonly spread to people by mosquito bites. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds and spread the virus to people and other animals by biting them.
In North America, cases of WNV occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall.
There are no human vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV. Fortunately, most infected people do not have symptoms of illness. About one-in-five infected people will have mild illness which may include fever, headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or rash.
About one in 150 infected people will become severely ill and may experience symptoms such as a stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, convulsions or paralysis. People 60 and older and those with other health conditions are more likely to have severe complications such as meningitis and encephalitis.
The best way to reduce your risk of West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites.
- Use insect repellent that contains DEET.
- Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
- Dress children in clothing that covers arms and legs.
- Cover crib, stroller and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
- Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Use air conditioning when available.
- Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air-conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
- 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. Check inside and outside your home. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water.
Be aware of sick-acting or dead birds, especially crows and blue jays, as it may indicate WNV in a community. Residents can report sick-acting or dead wildlife to the DNR by submitting an online report here.