The West Nile virus has been found in a captive hawk in Lapeer County, state officials said Friday.
The case is the first report of the virus in Michigan this year, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Transmitted through mosquito bites, the virus can cause a potentially deadly illness.
“It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause a severe illness,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the department’s chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health, said in a statement. “We urge Michiganders to take precautions such as using an EPA-registered insect repellent when outdoors.”
Last year, the West Nile virus sickened 12 people in Michigan as well as 20 animals and birds. Most who are infected show no symptoms, but 1 in 5 people will have a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most recover completely but people over age 60 are more likely to get a more severe form of the illness.
Also last year, Michigan saw the worst outbreak of another mosquito-borne illness, Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus, in state history. Activity of the virus was reported in 20 Michigan counties, with 50 cases in animals and 10 infected people, including six deaths. To date, no cases of the virus have been detected in Michigan. However, officials said, the virus is typically detected later in the summer.
The state department said since mosquitoes and the virus will develop more quickly as summer temperatures rise, it urges Michigan residents to protect themselves. The best defense, it said, is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around their homes and avoid mosquito bites.
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