Officials in Michigan have reported the first human West Nile virus (WNV) fatality of 2018 in a resident of Wayne County.

Image/Census Bureau
Image/Census Bureau

Overall for the year, eight human cases have been reported– one resident of Berrien County, one resident of Kent County, one resident of Oakland County, and five residents of Wayne County.

All but one have been hospitalized with neurologic disease.

“As the fall approaches, it’s vital to remember that mosquito bite protection should continue until the weather significantly cools,” said Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).   “It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause a severe illness, so take extra care during peak mosquito-biting hours, which are dusk and dawn for the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus.”

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported 231 human WNV cases (58 percent neuroinvasive disease), including eight deaths.

South Dakota has seen the most cases to date with 40, followed by Louisiana, Mississippi and California.

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Most people who become infected with WNV will not develop any symptoms of illness. However, some become sick three to 15 days after exposure. About one-in-five infected persons will have mild illness with fever, and about one in 150 infected people will become severely ill.

Mild illness may include headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting diarrhea, or rash. Severe symptoms of WNV are associated with encephalitis or meningitis, and may include: stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, convulsions and paralysis. People 60 and older are more susceptible to these severe symptoms.