The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed Michigan's first human cases of West Nile virus for 2015. The virus has been found in people in Macomb, Monroe, and Ottawa counties.

“We have clear evidence that West Nile virus (WNV) is present in the state again this summer,” says Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.  “Even late in the season, remembering to take a few minutes to protect ourselves and our loved ones from mosquito bites when outside can make a big difference.”

Statewide, 57 birds have tested positive for WNV so far this season, and 11 WNV positive mosquito pools have been detected from Bay, Kent, Oakland, Saginaw, and Wayne counties.

Tips to avoid West Nile virus:

  • Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes lay eggs.
  • Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.
  • Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other EPA approved product to exposed skin or clothing, and always following the manufacturer’s directions for use.
  • Wear light colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.
  • Take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours between dusk and dawn.  Use repellent and protective clothing, or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
  • Choose a repellent concentration rated for the time you will spend outdoors. When applying repellent to children, apply it to your own hands and rub them on the child.  Avoid the eyes and mouth and do not apply to children’s hands because they sometimes put their hands in their mouths.
  • Do not apply repellents to infants under 6 months of age and instead place nets over strollers and baby carriers.
  • Biological controls for small lakes and ponds you own, such as Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, may also be used.

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 WNV include: 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.