The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is reporting the highest number of human West Nile cases at this point in the year since the virus was first detected in 1999. West Nile is spread to humans through mosquito bites. The CDC cays West Nile cases could even be 30 to 50 times higher than those reported. Only about 2-3 percent of cases are reported, mainly because about 80 percent of those infected don't have any symptoms.
"The situation is serious because the virus infection rate in the mosquito population is high and is predicted to remain high into October," said Edward Walker, Ph.D. of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Michigan State University. "As long as nighttime temperatures stay above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, there is risk of transmission."
But Walker says there are ways to protect yourself and your family:
• Avoid mosquitoes whenever possible.
• Use bug repellants when going outside.
• Secure your home by checking all window screens and keeping doors closed.
While many who contract the virus may not show symptoms, others may experience fever and flu-like illness for several days. If this happens, see your family physician immediately.
For more information, visit the Michigan Emerging Disease Issues website.