West Nile Surveillance & Vector Control

Animal Disease Surveillance

The Division assists local municipalities by packaging and forwarding animal specimens to the State laboratory for testing. Life threatening diseases such as rabies and West Nile virus must be identified with expediency so that appropriate medical attention may be administered.

West Nile Encephalitis

Viruses and bacteria can cause encephalitis [an inflammation of the brain] or meningitis [inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord]. Many individuals infected with the virus do not become ill, however, in those who become ill, most infections are mild. In 1999 and 2000, it caused an outbreak of human encephalitis in and around New York City. It is not known how West Nile was introduced in the United States.

  • West Nile Virus Fact Sheet | Arabic
  • West Nile Virus Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
  • West Nile Virus Mapping
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    Natural Transmission

    Infected mosquitoes are the primary source for West Nile Virus. Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile Virus when they feed on infected birds that carry the virus in their blood. Those infected mosquitoes can then transmit West Nile Virus to humans and other animals while biting them to take in blood. West Nile encephalitis is not transmitted from person-to-person.

    Signs and Symptoms

    Most infections are mild, and symptoms include body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. More severe infection may be marked by headache, high fever, stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. Persons with severe or unusual headaches should seek medical care as soon as possible.

    Risk

    Everyone is susceptible to West Nile encephalitis or meningitis in areas where virus activity has been identified; however, less than 1% of people who get bitten by an infected mosquito will become severely ill.

    Treatment

    There is no vaccine for West Nile encephalitis. However, a person with severe disease, intensive supportive therapy is indicated: hospitalization, intravenous fluids, airway management, respiratory support (ventilator) if needed, prevention of secondary infections (pneumonia, urinary tract, etc.), and good nursing care.

    What Should I Do If My Child Is Bitten By a Mosquito?

    • First, remember very few (less than 1%) mosquitoes are infected with the West Nile virus. Most people, including children, who are bitten by mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus will experience no symptoms, or very mild illnesses.
    • If illness were to occur, it would occur within 3 to 15 days of being bitten by an infected mosquito.
    • Symptoms may include fever, headache, body aches, a mild rash or swollen lymph glands. West Nile virus can lead to encephalitis causing permanent neurological damage, and can be fatal. Symptoms of encephalitis [inflammation of the brain] include the rapid onset of severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, confusion, loss of consciousness [coma], or muscle weakness, and may be fatal.
    • Seek medical attention if your child develops symptoms such as high fever with confusion; muscle weakness; severe headaches; or a stiff neck.

    How to Prevent Infection

    • Empty all sources of standing water such as birdbaths, old tires and toys where water can collect.
    • As much as possible, stay inside when mosquito activity is heavy-dawn, dusk and early evening.
    • Whenever possible, wear long sleeves and long pants.
    • Close gaps and cracks in window screens.
    • Use insect repellent containing permethrin or DEET. An effective repellent will contain 35% DEET. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends products with 10% or lower DEET for children.
    • Do not use products with DEET on infants. Apply repellent on exposed skin and clothes. Do not place on child's hands or near mouth.
    • Wash repellent off after coming indoors.

     

    West Nile Virus Hotline Number


    American crows are susceptible to West Nile Virus infection. Therefore, crows, ravens and blackbirds found dead less than 48 hours should be reported to the Michigan Department of Community Health's hotline number at (888) 668-0869, or access the State's west nile virus web site at www.michigan.gov/westnilevirus.
    *Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions should call to arrange a time to drop off dead birds. Health officials urge residents to use gloves to avoid touching dead birds, which should placed in a plastic bag and sealed in a container. Residents who have questions about West Nile Virus can call the Wayne County Department of Public Health's West Nile Virus hotline at: (734) 727-7445.

    Dead Bird Testing


    Wayne County, MI - Residents can help public health officials detect the presence of West Nile Virus in local communities by dropping off dead birds at Wayne County Department of Public Health's Environmental Health Division.

    Residents should call to arrange a time to drop off dead birds. Health officials urge residents to use gloves to avoid touching dead birds, which should placed in a plastic bag and sealed in a container. Residents who have questions about West Nile Virus can call the Wayne County Department of Public Health's West Nile Virus hotline at: (734) 727-7445.