County Health Division Urges Athletes, Fans to Protect Against West Nile Virus
With nine confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in Oakland County so far, the Oakland County Health Division is urging outdoor sports enthusiasts to protect themselves against mosquito bites.
As local sporting teams gear up for upcoming athletic events, coaches and parents are advised to protect themselves and team members from mosquito bites that can cause West Nile Virus (WNV) during practices, trainings and games. Locally, the number of human cases of WNV has increased since early August from one to nine as of Aug. 22.
So far this year, there are 60 confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in Michigan, including two deaths, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health Communicable Disease Division.
“Nationwide, we are experiencing the highest number of human West Nile Virus cases since 1999,” Oakland County Health Division Manager and Health Officer Kathy Forzley said. “We are encouraging athletic teams, their fans, and all residents to take protective measures during sporting events such as practice and games.”
Mosquitoes that are known to transmit WNV are most active from dusk to dawn. However, they may also be active during the day in wooded and shaded areas. Long sleeve shirts and long pants provide some protection; in addition people should use insect repellent on exposed skin.
Residents are encouraged to take the following steps to avoid WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses:
- Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes out of buildings
- Empty water from mosquito breeding sites such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes lay eggs
- Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active
- Wear light colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors
- Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or other EPA-approved repellents to exposed skin or clothing, always following the manufacturer's directions for use
Most people bitten by a WNV-infected mosquito show no symptoms of illness. However, some become sick three to 15 days after exposure. About one in five infected persons will have mild illness with fever. About one in 150 infected people will become severely ill. Symptoms of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and meningitis (inflammation of the spinal cord and brain linings) include stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, convulsions and paralysis.
People 50 and older are more susceptible to severe WNV disease symptoms. Physicians are urged to test patients for WNV if they present with fever and signs of meningitis or encephalitis, or sudden painless paralysis in the absence of stroke in the summer months. For more information, visit the Oakland County Health Division website at www.oakgov.com/health.
Source: Oakland County Health Division