With the recent publicity surrounding new cases of the West Nile virus, an illness contracted through a mosquito bite, a number of residents have expressed their concern. To put to rest any fears, here are some basic facts about the West Nile virus according to the Michigan Department of Community Health:
Less than 1% of mosquitoes are infected with the virus and only infected mosquitoes can transmit it.
Of those humans infected, only about 1 in 150 people will have more serious illnesses of encephalitis and/or meningitis.
The virus can only be spread by mosquitoes and is not transmitted from person to person or from crows to people.
Crows & West Nile Virus
Crows from Macomb County have been tested for the West Nile Virus and therefore, the Health Department is no longer testing birds from this area. If you find a dead bird, Health Department officials suggest using disposable gloves or a plastic shopping bag to pick up the bird and place the carcass in a double plastic bag in an outdoor garbage can for disposal.
Defending Yourself Against Exposure
Your best defense against the West Nile Virus is to limit your exposure to mosquitoes. Some suggestions are:
Apply insect repellent that contains the active ingredient DEET to exposed skin or clothing. Always following the manufacturer’s directions for use on the label.
Avoid applying repellent to children under 2 years of age and to the hands of older children because repellents may be transferred to the eyes and mouth potentially causing irritation or adverse health effects.
Use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of buildings.
Drain standing water in the yards. Empty water from mosquito breeding sites, such as flower pots, pet bowls, clogged rain gutters, swimming pool covers, discarded tires, buckets, barrels, cans and similar sites in which mosquitoes can lay eggs.
Wear light colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
Spraying for Mosquitoes
The City of Sterling Heights routinely sprays the Dodge Park / Clinton River Park trail and the Dodge Park fitness trail on a weekly basis during mosquito season.