The death of a 65-year-old Oakland County man has health officials urging Michigan residents to minimize the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus, the apparent cause of the man's death. He hasn't been publicly identified. But news reports say he was a Ferndale resident who died Tuesday at a Madison Heights hospital.
The Department of Community Health says 13 probable West Nile cases have been reported statewide.
Most people bitten by an infected mosquito don't get sick, and most others see only flu-like symptoms. But a small percentage contract encephalitis, a potentially fatal infection of the brain.
wilx.com: Extended Web Coverage
West Nile virus Facts
- The West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) in humans and other animals.
- The virus is named after the West Nile region of Uganda where it was first isolated in1937.
- The virus appeared for the first time in the United States during a 1999 outbreak in New York that killed seven people.
How is the West Nile virus Spread?
- The virus is spread to humans, birds and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito.
- A mosquito becomes infected by biting a bird that is carrying the virus.
- West Nile virus is not spread from person to person, and no evidence indicates the virus can be spread directly from birds to humans.
- Only a small population of mosquitoes are likely to be infected and most people bitten by an infected mosquito do not become sick.
- 1 in 300 people bitten by an infected mosquito get sick.
- 1 in 100-150 who get sick become seriously ill.
- 3 to 15 percent of those seriously ill die.
Symptoms of the Virus
- The symptoms generally appear about 3 to 6 days after exposure. People over the age of 50 are at a greater risk of severe illness.
- Milder symptoms include: Slight fever, headache, body aches, swollen glands and/or sometimes a skin rash.
- Severe symptoms include: High fever, intense headache, stiff neck, and/or confusion.
- Control mosquitoes from breeding around your home.
- Wear long and light colored clothing.
- Use insect repellent products with no ore than 20-30 percent DEET for adults and less than 10 percent for children.
- Spray repellent on your hands and then apply to your face. Be sure repellent is safe for human skin.
- Wash off repellent daily and reapply as needed.
Mosquito Protection Tips
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, hats and boots to reduce exposed skin.
- Limit outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.
- Apply repellent liberally to all exposed skin areas.
- Apply repellents to clothing, shoes, tents, mosquito nets, and other gear.
- Use mosquito coils (ensure coils do not contain DDT).
- Sleep in well-screened areas whenever possible.
- Ensure that door and window screens fit tightly and do not have holes.
- Insect repellents that contain 30-35 percent DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) will provide adults with sufficient protection. The concentration of DEET in a repellent should not exceed 35 percent. Products with lower concentrations of DEET are effective but for a shorter period of time.
- Reducing the amount of standing water on your property can significantly decrease the potential for mosquito breeding around your home.
- Common breeding sites may include garbage cans, clogged roof gutters/drainage ditches, birdbaths, pool covers, flowerpots, tires, tarps, rainwater barrels, wading pools etc.
- Containers that may accumulate water should be removed or holes drilled in the bottom.
- Pools should be maintained and ornamental pools aerated or stocked with fish.
Sources: www.lambtonhealth.on.ca/environmental/mosquito.asp and www.vdh.state.va.us contributed to this report