West Nile virus human case reported in Ottawa County

Krystle Wagner • Sep 1, 2018 at 7:00 AM

Health officials have confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus in Ottawa County in three years.

So far this year, there have been 16 confirmed cases in Michigan, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services website. Kent County has four confirmed cases and Allegan County has one. Other counties with confirmed cases are Wayne, Oakland, Berrien, Ingham and Macomb.

Since 2002, there have been 15 confirmed West Nile virus human cases in Ottawa County. The most recent case was in 2015.

Ottawa County Department of Public Health spokeswoman Kristina Wieghmink noted that 60 percent of the cases, or nine of the 15, were reported in 2002.

West Nile virus is commonly spread by bites from mosquitoes that have been infected.

While most people don’t contract symptoms, about one in five develop a fever and symptoms such as headache, joint pains, body ache, vomiting, diarrhea or rash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those age 60 and older who have other health conditions are more likely to have complications such as encephalitis and meningitis.

If you think you are experiencing West Nile virus symptoms, Wieghmink urges you to contact your doctor.

Steps you can take to prevent mosquito bites include using insect repellent that contains DEET; wear light-colored long-sleeve shirts and pants outdoors; dress children in clothing that covers their arms and legs; and cover cribs, baby carriers and strollers with mosquito netting.

Residents can also take steps to control mosquitoes inside and outside their homes. Use screens on windows and doors, repair holes in screens, use air conditioning, sleep under a mosquito net if screened rooms aren’t available, and empty standing water outside your home.

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