Michiganders will need to add mosquitos to the growing list of potentially harmful environmental factors to avoid this summer. Photo via Shutterstock.
Michiganders will need to add mosquitos to the growing list of potentially harmful environmental factors to avoid this summer. Photo via Shutterstock.

Michigan health officials are contending with yet another virus.

OTTAWA, MI — The year’s first case of a mosquito-borne virus was confirmed in Michigan this week.

Both the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Ottawa County Health Department issued advisories announcing the first human case of Jamestown Canyon virus in a year already overwhelmed by a viral pandemic.

Image via Google maps

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This virus is spread to people through infected mosquitoes’ bites. Most people do not become ill, but the disease can cause severe reactions in rare instances, according to MDHHS. The most severe reactions can include infection of the brain, the lining around the brain, and the spinal cord.

“During the warm weather months in Michigan, there is always a risk of viruses spread by mosquitoes, including but not limited to West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive. “This is an important reminder to stay vigilant and protect against mosquito bites throughout the summer and into the fall.”

Mosquitoes catch the virus from infected deer or other animals. Once infected, mosquitos can then pass the virus along to humans through bites. Ottawa County officials are reminding Michiganders that the virus is rare but that they should still take precautions against it.

“Use insect repellent that contains DEET or another EPA-approved product and wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors,” Kristina Wieghmink, public information officer for the Ottawa County Department of Public Health told The ’Gander.

Most infections occur between late spring and mid-fall, according to state health officials. Once a person is bitten by an infected mosquito, illness can take anywhere from a few days to two weeks to develop. Early symptoms can include fever, headache, and fatigue.

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Protecting Yourself and Your Family

State health officials recommend that residents take the following steps to stay healthy:

  • Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other EPA-approved products to exposed skin or clothing. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
  • Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.
  • Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes lay eggs.

The first human cases of the Jamestown Canyon virus were reported in Michigan in 2018. At that time, the patients were from Oakland and Menominee Counties. Cass County reported a case of the mosquito-borne virus last year.

More information about mosquito-borne viruses like the Jamestown Canyon virus, the West Nile virus and others can be found at www.michigan.gov/westnilevirus.

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