House Holds First Ever West Nile Virus Hearing

By: Brian Johnson Email
By: Brian Johnson Email

This year has brought the largest number of West Nile cases in Michigan in a decade. At last count there have been 170 cases, 10 people have died. So Thursday the House Health Policy Committee held the first ever hearing on the virus.

"There is not enough information state wide on this topic. It is serious, and so the best defense on this is education," said Representative Mike Shirkey from the 65-District that covers much of Jackson County.

Representative Shirkey says while this initial meeting is good, there is much still he and others want to know.

"We didn't talk yet about implementation across the whole state and frankly we didn't talk about the efficacy of the investment that has been made even in those counties," said Shirkey.

Since 2003, the state has paid millions of dollars to local municipalities to help prevent the disease.

"We need to take protection, and one of the biggest defenses that we have is personal protection, and the knowledge of how to do that," said George Miller, the Oakland County Health and Human Services Director.

Miller would like the state to help coordinate the best awareness campaign efforts so that regardless of where you live in the state everyone is informed about how to avoid getting West Nile.

"So if there's good resources out there, we need to be continuously talking about our best practices and not reinventing the wheel," said Miller.

Miller doesn't expect the state to spray areas to kill the mosquitos as Texas has done. He says it's an expensive process and the risks outweigh the benefits.

The bottom line is the government spreads awareness, but it is up to individuals to safeguard themselves.

While the temperatures are getting cooler, experts say now is not the time to let your guard down.

"Once we get past the end or middle of october, we can be a little more relaxed," said Miller.

Experts stress wearing mosquito repellent, long sleeves and pants and avoid being outdoors during dawn and dust. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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