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Kent County Health Department Sets Surveillance For West Nile Virus

Kent County Seal
Kent County

The Kent County Health Department is once again setting traps for area mosquitoes in an effort to find out about the West Nile Virus.  Health officials report on their latest effort to protect residents from what can be a deadly disease. 

“Last year for the first time in Kent County since we’ve been doing the surveillance, we found no human case… so maybe some of these efforts are starting to pay off.”

Keeping the West Nile Virus at a bay and away from local residents is a goal of the Kent County Health Department.  Communications Manager, Steve Kelso says their (annual) continual monitoring and surveillance efforts can provide useful information.

“We set up traps in pre designated zip codes, areas where we know we’ve seen West Nile in the past.  They sit there for two days and then go back to their lab.” 

Once back at the lab, Kelso says experts do detailed testing which will show the presence of  West Nile and if it is found, it’s shipped to a lab and  verified independently. 

“But more importantly, if we find it, we can say to the municipality and those that live in that zip code, we can say, we know it’s in your neighborhood and you should wear repellant, fix screens, because we know that virus is here.”

While the information could prompt residents to take recommended action it could also help set the course for the future..

“All the information is put into a national data base and we could chart the progress of where west nile is spreading and start observing by using and overlaying all of that information from year to year to year.”

And if talk of Nest Nile has you wondering about the Zika virus, Kelso says they will also set up specialized traps for mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus as well although he says they do not anticipate finding it here in Michigan.  However, the information they gather will be added into the same national data base to be used by the Centers for Disease Control in its efforts.

Jennifer is an award winning broadcast news journalist with more than two decades of professional television news experience including the nation's fifth largest news market. She's worked as both news reporter and news anchor for television and radio in markets from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo all the way to San Francisco, California.