The mosquitoes are out and the first activity of the West Nile virus has been found in West Michigan for 2017. The virus was found in a turkey in Barry County, a crow in Saginaw County and another crow in Kalamazoo County.
Not every mosquito has West Nile Virus, and not everyone who is bitten by an infected mosquito gets sick. Adults 50 years old and older have the highest risk of severe illness caused by West Nile virus, according to the MDHHS.
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"Everyone older than six months of age should use repellent outdoors", said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive of MDHHS in a press release.
Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile virus when they bite an infected bird, then transmit the virus onto humans by bite.
There had been two reported West Nile cases and three cases of St. Louis Encephalitis, a similar mosquito-borne illness, in 2016.
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A Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito is seen on the skin of a human host in this 2014 picture from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mild symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, nausea and vomiting.
Many people with the virus will either have no symptoms or very mild clinical symptoms of the illness. They will readily come inside to bite if windows and door screens are not covered. As summer temperatures rise, mosquitoes and the virus develop more quickly so it is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites as the weather warms.
Earlier this month, three birds tested positive for the virus in Michigan State University labs. Three birds and a bat were discovered to have the diseases, which can be harmful to humans.
"As with many wildlife diseases, vigilant observation and reporting from the public are critical in helping health and wildlife experts better understand and contain the transmission of West Nile Virus", Straka said in a statement.
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