West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus (WNV) is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes. It was first detected in the United States during the summer of 1999. Most people who contract WNV have few symptoms and recover quickly. In certain people with weakened immune systems, WNV causes encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, which can lead to death. People over the age of 50 are more likely to become seriously ill if infected than the general population.
Although West Nile Virus has received a lot of attention, it is important to note the relatively low rate of infection compared to other diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2004 only 2470 people were diagnosed with West Nile Virus and 88 of those infections led to death (16 infections and 0 deaths in Michigan). In comparison, the CDC estimates that 28-56 million people are infected with the flu every year, and 20,000 die.
What you can do
The Centers for Disease Control offer several recommendations for minimizing your chances of contracting WNV.
- Stay indoors during peak mosquito periods—dawn and dusk
- Wear insect repellant with DEET
- Eliminate stagnant water—buckets, flowerpots, tires, landscape plastic, and pool covers
- Change the water regularly in birdbaths, clean clogged rain gutters, and put mosquito screens on rain barrels
Report Dead Birds Crows, jays, and ravens (Corvids) are carriers of WNV. The occurrence of dead Corvids can indicate the presence of WNV in the area. If you find a dead crow, blue jay, or raven, please report it by calling either the Wayne County Department of Public Health’s Environmental Health Division (734-727-7445), Michigan Department of Community Health’s hotline (888-668-0869), Van Buren Township Environmental Department (734-699-8913) or report it online through the DNR.
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