Kent County West Nile Virus Epidemic

An 86-year-old woman from Wayne County is the fourth person to die from West Nile virus in Michigan this year, health officials announced Wednesday, with one expert saying the mosquito infection rate is at its peak in the state.

On a conference call with reporters, Dean Sienko, interim chief medical executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health, said there have been 80 human cases of West Nile this year in the state. The patient required hospitalization in 62 of those cases.

In all of 2011, Michigan recorded 34 human cases of West Nile virus and two deaths.

“I think it’s serious. We are having an epidemic of West Nile virus activity in Michigan,” Sienko said. “We are seeing the highest numbers that we have seen since 2002 in Michigan. (The Centers for Disease Control) is predicting that the national numbers will be the highest numbers that we have ever seen. This is something that people need to pay attention to.”

Ned Walker, chief investigator at Michigan State University’s insect microbiology lab, said “the mosquito infection rate is at its peak,” it will extend into the end of September or early October.

Mosquitoes pick up the virus from birds they bite and then pass it to people. In its most severe form, the virus can attack the body’s neurological system.
Mosquito Squad of Grand Rapids reminds you to follow the 5-T’s as a way to reduce the number of mosquitoes in your yard.
1. Tip – tip over birdbaths and flower pots weekly
2. Toss – toss bottle caps, tires anything that can hold water out in the yard.
3. Turn – turn over dog dishes, wheelbarrows, plastic swimming pools, kids toys ect.
4. Tarp – make sure any tarps in the yard are pulled tight so that they cannot retain water
5. Treat – have your yard treated for mosquitoes, not your body.

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