The Oakland County Health Division (OCHD) is urging all residents to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites and West Nile Virus (WNV) during upcoming outdoor events, including this weekend's Woodward Dream Cruise.
Oakland County has received confirmation of two positive human cases of WNV. There are 17 positive cases in Michigan while nationwide, there are 693 cases of WNV, including 23 deaths — the largest spike in WNV activity since 2004.
“WNV activity is present earlier than previous years," said Kathy Forzley, OCHD manager and health officer. "Warm weather and periods of dry conditions may be to blame for the increase in the mosquito population and WNV activity this year."
"It is important that residents use insect repellent to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites during outdoor activities," she added.
Residents are encouraged to take the following steps to avoid WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses while outside:
- 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, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus 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 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.
For more information, visit the Oakland County Health Division website at www.oakgov.com/health.