This is the earliest the state has detected West Nile in Michigan in several years, sparking new measures to educate citizens on how best to combat the virus.
The West Nile virus was found among a mosquito-breeding pool by the Saginaw County Mosquito Abatement Commission. A dead turkey in Washtenaw County also tested positive for the virus.
Erik Foster, a medical entomologist for the Department of Community Health, said it's difficult to determine whether or not the disease has made its way to other areas in Michigan. So far, there have been no reports this year in Ottawa County.
“Surveillance depends on whether or not people in an area are reporting issues,” he said.
Because Illinois and Indiana have reported elevated levels of mosquitos that could carry the virus, Michigan has been gearing up to combat the problem, Foster said.
The Ottawa County Health Department website outlines several ways individuals can protect themselves from possible infection. People are advised to avoid outdoor activities during dawn or dusk, and to wear protective clothing during these times if being outside is necessary. Residents are also advised to wear insect repellent containing DEET for best protection.
The Health Department recommends property owners keep their grass and shrubbery trimmed, and limit the amount of freestanding water.
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