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Friday, 17 August 2012

Michigan Woman Dies Of West Nile,Its Just The Beginning Say Experts

Mosquitoes spread West Nile.
Mosquitoes spread West Nile. / U.S. Department of Agriculture
Public health officials in Michigan are sounding the alarm about another potentially deadly mosquito season after a Washtenaw County woman described as healthy and active died of West Nile Virus -- the first such death this year.
Last year, 34 cases were reported throughout Michigan. This week, the number of reported cases in the state is already at 24 -- with 19 of them involving hospitalizations -- putting the state on trajectory to have one of the worst West Nile seasons in years, said Erik Foster, a state entomologist.
"Prime West Nile season" is just beginning, Foster said.
Additionally, the virus was detected in nine blood donations, according to state public health officials.
That mirrors a national surge. West Nile has been detected in 191 blood donations throughout the U.S. At least 693 cases of the virus, including 26 deaths, were reported through Tuesday to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nearly half of all West Nile cases in the U.S. so far this year are in Texas, according to the CDC. For the first time in more than 45 years, officials in the Dallas area planned Thursday to resume dropping insecticide from the air to combat the nation's worst outbreak of West Nile Virus, which has killed 10 people and caused at least 200 others to fall ill.
The virus was confirmed more than a month ago in Michigan mosquitoes and in a wild turkey -- earlier than usual because of the mild winter and spring.
Michiganders may be at greater risk this year, experts said. That's because the long, dry spell reduced other species of mosquitoes that love rainfall and are considered more nuisance than dangerous. And that has people skipping the bug repellent, Foster and others said.
But Culex pipiens, the mosquito that carries the virus, will continue to feast through September, Foster said. And the prolonged heat may have accelerated the life cycle of the mosquito, which doesn't mind the dry weather, and spurred the development of the West Nile Virus in its body. That, in turn, means the virus is transferred more quickly to humans after the mosquito contracts it from an infected bird, entomologists and health officials said.
"We don't feel the risk, and the risk is even higher this year," said Susan Cerniglia, spokeswoman for the Washtenaw County health department.
Human cases of the virus often begin to spike this time of year, said Marilyn Ruiz, an associate professor of pathobiology at the University of Illinois.
"It has to do with the buildup of the virus -- more birds, more mosquitoes. We call it 'amplification,' " she said. "There's simply more virus available."
The virus was first was detected in Michigan birds in 2001. It was responsible for 51 deaths in 2002, the deadliest year in Michigan.
Health officials said the Washtenaw County woman who died within the last week was between 75 and 85 years old.
"This was a lady who was active and healthy and out and about in a number of places," said Mary Grace Stobierski, a manager in the state Department of Community Health's epidemiology section.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Severe symptoms
• High fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, paralysis and coma.
Other symptoms
• Body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes, swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back.
No symptoms
• Approximately 80% of people who are infected will not show any symptoms at all.
• Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants.
• Fix screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
• Empty standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels.
• Change the water in pet dishes and water in bird baths frequently.
• Drill holes in tire swings to drain water. • Empty wading pools when they aren't being used

Edited By Cen Fox Post Team

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