Genesee County residents urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites

GENESEE COUNTY — The Genesee County Health Department (GCHD) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) urge residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

Recently, mosquitos collected in the neighboring counties of Bay, Oakland, and Saginaw have tested positive for Jamestown Canyon virus (JCV) at the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories. These are the first reported positive pools detected in 2021.

The best way to protect against JCV, as well as other mosquito-borne illnesses, such as West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), is to prevent mosquito bites. To date, there have been no positive mosquitos or reported cases (human or animal) of JCV, WNV, or EEE in Genesee County.

The last report of an animal case was a deer infected with EEE in 2019. In 2020, there were no mosquito-borne illnesses reported in Genesee County. There was one human WNV case reported in 2019.

Each summer, bites from infected mosquitos carry risk of spreading disease to both people and animals. JCV, WNV, and EEE are not spread person to person. Most cases of mosquito-borne illness occur from late spring to early fall.

The diseases can affect anyone; however, persons younger than age 15 and over age 50 are at greatest risk of severe illness. While most people will never become ill, symptoms typically develop from a few days to two weeks following a bite from an infected mosquito and can include:

• JCV—fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and lethargy.

• WNV and EEE—sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches.

In rare instances, mosquito-borne illnesses can cause disease in the brain and/or spinal cord, resulting in severe conditions such as encephalitis and meningitis. These conditions can result in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures, and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma, or death may occur in some cases.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should visit a health care provider or emergency room. GCHD urges residents to take precautions against mosquito bites, especially at or after dusk.

Genesee County residents can follow these steps to avoid mosquito bites:

• Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered product to exposed skin or clothing, and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.

• Children under 2 months old should not use repellent. They should wear clothing covering the arms and legs. Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.

• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Also, apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.

• Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.

• Empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires, or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs.

• Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas. — G.G.