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Protect Yourself, Avoid West Nile Virus this Labor Day Weekend

With more than 100 confirmed cases of West Nile Virus – including five deaths – in Michigan so far this year, the Oakland County Health Division is urging residents to take extra precautions.

The following information was supplied by the Oakland County Health Division (OCHD).

As of Thursday, there were 104 confirmed cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Michigan, including five deaths, according to the Oakland County Health Division (OCHD). So far this year, OCHD has received reports of 12 human cases of WNV in Oakland County.

In light of the WNV outbreak, the Oakland County Health Division is advising residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites while outdoors this Labor Day weekend to lower the risk of contracting West Nile Virus. 

“The end of summer is when mosquitoes are older and more likely to carry the virus,” said Kathy Forzley, OCHD manager and health officer. “With so many people enjoying the outdoors this coming weekend, it is important that everyone, especially the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, protect themselves from mosquito bites.

“Labor Day Weekend is a great time to enjoy the outdoors with the family. But we want residents to remember to take some simple precautions to prevent West Nile Virus."

The following steps will help residents avoid WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Avoid shady and wooded areas during daytime hours.
  • 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.
  • Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes out of buildings.
  • Empty water from mosquito breeding sites such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes lay eggs.

According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, the risk of WNV extends from late September into early October. 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 or find them on Facebook.

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