Michigan– While the world’s attention has been focused on the coronavirus, health officials are now also warning about the West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis viruses, which are likely to show up over the summer.
West Nile virus has already been detected in Lapeer County in a captive hawk. Both West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis viruses originate from infected birds that are bit by mosquitoes who then bite humans.
According to Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health, “It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause a severe illness.” She urges Michiganders to take precautions to avoid bites.
While Eastern Equine Encephalitis has not been detected yet this summer, residents are warned that 2019 was the worst year on record for outbreaks. Six deaths were attributed to Eastern Equine Encephalitis last year.
Symptoms of mosquito-borne viruses are typically high fever, confusion, muscle weakness and a severe headache. More serious complications include neurological illnesses, such as meningitis and encephalitis.
The best line of defense is avoiding mosquito bites and trying to discourage mosquito breeding grounds. Information about virus detection can be found at Michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.
Reporting for WGRT – Jennie McClelland