Michigan Reports First Case Of West Nile Virus

Another virus is rearing its head just as parks and other public spaces reopen.

WWJ News
June 05, 2020 - 10:01 am
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(WWJ) As we deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the state Health Department issued another blow to residents who are just starting to feel safe enough to go back outside: They're now reporting the first case of West Nile virus in Michigan. 

A hawk in Lapeer County tested positive for West Nile, a virus that is spread from mosquitoes to other animals and humans, and can cause those infected to have a range of symptoms from a mild fever to death.

The Centers for Disease Control say West Nile is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people.

"Fortunately, most people infected with WNV do not feel sick," the CDC added. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.

Health officials say 12 people and 20 animals and birds were sickened by West Nile in Michigan last year.  The state also had its worst year for Eastern Equine Encephalitis last year.  There was encephalitis activity reported in 20 Michigan counties, with 50 cases in animals and 10 people infected.  Six of those residents died. 

Health officials say the best way to prevent West Nile or Encephalitis is to protect yourself against mosquito bites when you're outside by wearing long sleeves and pants, eliminating any standing water in your yard. 

West Nile news comes as many communities reopen public pools and playgrounds after shuttering much of the state in mid-March to try to halt the spread of coronavirus. Bars and restaurants are also reopening across Michigan while many offices remain closed and outdoor activities like concerts and sports events remain canceled.