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First Human Case of West Nile Virus Detected in Berrien County
Aug 23, 2018 Share

(Berrien County, MI) – Berrien County Health Department officials have confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) in Berrien County for this year. The case was in an adult woman who became ill in late July, showing symptoms of West Nile virus. As mosquitoes remain active in Southwest Michigan into the fall months, Berrien County Health Department officials urge residents to stay vigilant and protect themselves against mosquito bites to reduce their risk for West Nile virus. In Michigan, outbreaks of WNV have been occurring every summer since 2002.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people who contract the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. About one in five infected persons 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. More serious complications are associated with neurological illnesses, like meningitis and encephalitis. People 60 and older are more susceptible to severe WNV symptoms.

Residents should be aware of sick-acting or dead birds, especially crows and blue jays, as that may be an indication of West Nile virus in a community. Residents can report sick-acting or dead wildlife to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by submitting an online report.

The most effective way to reduce your risk of mosquito bites and WNV is to follow the 3 R’s:

Remove – Eliminate opportunities for mosquitoes to breed outside your home in pools of standing water. Once a week, dump water that is collecting outside in buckets, flowerpots, toys, kiddie pools, pet bowls, spare tires, etc. Keep gutters clean and free of debris.

Repel – Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved insect repellents when outdoors, such as those containing the active ingredient DEET. Always follow the directions on the label. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

Repair – Keep mosquitoes outside. Make sure your doors and windows have tightly fitting screens. Repair any tears or other openings. Use air conditioning when possible.

More information can be found at www.bchdmi.org or www.michigan.gov/westnilevirus.

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