Oakland County health officials urge protection against West Nile after virus found in bird

(WXYZ) - Health officials in Oakland County are alerting residents the West Nile virus is back, and advising people to protect themselves during the last few weeks of summer.

The Oakland County Health Division said Monday the virus was identified in a bird in Oakland County.
West Nile Virus is a potentially serious illness that flares up in the summer and continues into the fall. It is most often spread to people from infected birds through mosquito bites.

“Wherever there’s mosquitoes there’s potential that you could be exposed to it,” Kathy Forzley, OCHD manager said.

Forzley added mosquitoes tend to be older during late summer and are more likely to carry the virus.

There are no confirmed human cases in Oakland County or Michigan right now. According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, there were 38 West Nile virus cases last year; two of them were fatal.

If symptoms develop, they can appear three to 14 days after the mosquito bite. About one in five people experience mild symptoms such as a fever, body aches, nausea and vomiting. Fewer people – about one in 150 – develop serious symptoms that can include inflammation of the brain or spinal chord.

Health officials say taking simple precautions can make a big difference in protecting yourself from the virus. They recommend people to follow these steps when spending time outdoors this summer:
- Use insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or other EPA-approved active ingredient. Follow manufacturer guidelines.
- Avoid shaded and wooded ares wehre mosquitoes may be present.
- Limit outdoor activity between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
- Maintain window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Eliminate mosquito breeding sites around your home.

Health officials say in many cases the illness will improve without medical attention, but if you are showing any symptoms, call your doctor.

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