Another human case of West Nile Virus has been confirmed. It’s the first for Oakland County, raising the number of cases here in Michigan to four this year.
Question: What do we know about this latest infection?
We don’t have many details about the patient because of privacy laws, but we do know that health officials confirmed a 70-year-old Oakland County man has contracted the virus. As to the state of his health, we don’t know his condition so we can only hope that he’s doing well. Because West Nile Virus can be particularly harsh for the elderly. They are much more likely to suffer severe consequences from a West Nile infection.
Question: What can happen to a person’s health?
Now for most people, if they’re bitten they don’t have symptoms or have they may have mild ones. But if the virus crosses the blood-brain barrier, it could infect the brain and the spinal cord. And it can cause serious disease like inflammation of the brain or the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. It can also disrupt nerves impulses that we use for breathing, and if this happens it can cause death.
Question: We’ve talked before about how to protect yourself from mosquitoes, but this serves as a reminder of the importance of doing so, can you go over what we need to be doing?
Yes, we need to protect ourselves. Not just from West Nile Virus, but also from Tripe E, Eastern Equine Encephalitis which has infected 7 people in Southwest Michigan. 3 of them, sadly, have died. Both of these diseases are spread by infected mosquitos, so here are my prescriptions:
1. Right now, the cooler weather is great for evening strolls, but if you’re out at dusk or dawn, know that this is prime-time for mosquito activity.
2. Please use EPA-registered insect repellent. EPA is the Environmental Protection Agency and it evaluates the safety and effectiveness of bug repellents. So look for an “EPA Registration Number” on the product.
3. Next, long-sleeved shirts and pants provide much better protection coverage than shorts and short sleeve tops.
4. Lastly, West Nile Virus in Michigan is seasonal, occurring mostly in late summer, early fall. So please protect yourself against mosquito bites until after the first hard frost.