GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Health officials urge West Michigan residents to use mosquito repellant to protect against West Nile virus after it was detected twice last week on the east side of the state.
“We know the virus is circulating in mosquitoes and birds here in Michigan, so now is the time to act,” said Cathy Raevsky, the administrative health officer for the Kent County Health Department. “Take a few minutes before you and your family go outdoors to make sure you are protected.”
A mosquito abatement commission in Saginaw County tested a mosquito pool and detected West Nile virus, officials said. Also, a wild turkey in Washtenaw County that displayed signs of the virus was checked at Michigan State University, and it tested positive.
Even though the dry weather has kept the mosquito population down, health officials say the virus still poses a danger.
West Nile is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis — inflammation of the brain – and meningitis — inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, according to Michigan’s West Nile Virus website. It primarily affects birds, but also strikes humans.
Health officials advise using mosquito repellant, but add precautions for infants and toddlers. Here are their recommendations:
• Apply repellant to clothing and exposed skin, but don’t put it on under clothing or on cuts or irritated skin.
• Do not use repellants for infants under 2 months. Instead, put netting over the stroller.
• Do not use products with the chemical DEET in children under 2.
• Do not use products that contain oil of lemon eucalyptus on children under 3.
• Because children tend to put their hands in their mouths, don’t apply mosquito repellant to kids’ hands.
• After coming indoors, wash off repellant with soap and water. Wash clothing that has been treated before wearing it again.
More information about the virus is available on the state’s West Nile website.
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