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Michigan West Nile Virus Death Toll Climbs to 5

Livingston County Health Department Medical Director says prevention is key.

State health officials confirmed a fifth death from West Nile Virus Thursday in addition to the number of reported statewide cases climbing to 87, The Detroit Free Press reported.

Donald Lawrenchuk, medical director of the Livingston County Department of Public Health confirmed to Patch that there haven't been any cases in Livingston County yet, but that it was early in season. He said the season is expected to peak in September.

"We know that for every case that gets reported to a local health department, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate there's at least 10 times that many cases out there that don't get reported," Lawrenchuk said. "So just because we haven't had any confirmed or reported cases yet, doesn't mean that it's not out there. There have been cases all around Livingston County. We're pretty much surrounded by cases."

As of Thursday, there have been four reported cases in Ingham County, two in Washtenaw County, nine in Oakland County and 34 in Wayne County. Lawrenchuk said that 27 of the confirmed cases were discovered when people tried to donate blood to the Red Cross.

All of the Michigan deaths have been elderly, with an age range between 69 to 87 years old.

Lawrenchuk said the epidemic numbers being reported statewide are expected to break all records by the time time the season is over.

There is no human vaccine or currative treatment for West Nile Virus.

"Basically you treat the symptoms," Lawrenchuk said. "You treat the headache if they have headaches or you treat the fever if they have fever. There's no specific curative treatment for this disease. The best advice is prevention."

Lawrenchuk advises people to use the "Four D's of Prevention:"

  • Avoid being outside when mosquitoes are most active: dawn and dusk
  • , an EPA approved insect repellent
  • Dress properly in light colored, long sleeved shirts and pants and socks when outdoors
  • Drainage - empty any standing water, buckets, unused kid pools, tires, even clogged drains and gutters

"The thing with this particular mosquito is they call it an urban mosquito," Lawrenchuk said. "It doesn't travel very far, it likes to stay in close, confined areas. The typical mosquito lifespan lasts about a month or so and during that time, they average mosquito will only travel a couple hundred feet maximum. So if you do all these things around the perimeter of your own home, you can do a lot to prevent yourself from getting West Nile Virus and other mosquito born illnesses as well."

For more information about West Nile virus, visit www.cdc.gov/westnile or
www.michigan.gov/westnile.

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