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First signs of West Nile Virus this year appear in Michigan


West Nile Virus has turned up again in Michigan.

Three crows in Ingham County tested positive for the mosquito-borne virus.

"As summer temperatures rise … mosquitoes and the virus develop more quickly. So it is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites,” says Jennifer Smith, with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

West Nile Virus can cause serious neurological illnesses in people. In rare cases, West Nile Virus could lead to potentially deadly consequences. 

“While everyone should take steps to protect themselves, adults who are 50 and older have the highest risk of illness caused by West Nile virus,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive for the MDHHS.

State officials recommend anyone spending extended periods outdoors to use mosquito repellent products containing EPA-approved active ingredients, such as DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

In a press release, state officials suggest when applying insect repellents, it’s important to keep the following guidelines in mind:

·  Before applying repellent, read all label directions; not all repellents are intended to be applied to the skin

·  Repellents with low concentrations (10% or below) are effective and may be preferred in most situations. Start with a low-concentration product and re-apply if necessary. 

·  If applying repellents over a long period of time, alternate the repellent with one having another active ingredient

Wild birds are usually the first to fall victim to West Nile Virus.

State officials are asking the public to report any dying or dead birds.

"As with many wildlife diseases, vigilant observation and reporting from the public are critical in helping health and wildlife experts better understand and contain the transmission of West Nile Virus," said Steve Schmitt, veterinarian-in-charge at the DNR Wildlife Disease Lab.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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