West Nile virus an "increased risk" to Kent County residents

Aug 15, 2018

Culex mosquito
Credit Wikimedia Commons

The Kent County Health Department is concerned there’s an increased risk of contracting the West Nile virus. A warm, dry summer is conducive for breeding among the mosquito carrying the virus. While no human cases have been reported this year, recent county mosquito testing indicates the situation is serious.

During the warm weather months the Kent County Health Department sets traps collecting mosquitos for West Mile virus testing. Over the past four years the county has captured, on average, about 4000 Culex mosquitos in its traps at this point in the summer. Those are mosquitos that can carry the virus.

“This year we have captured well over 16,000 of these Culex mosquitos."

Health Officer Adam London says those mosquitos are tested in what are called “pools” of 50 mosquitos at the county and Michigan State University labs.

“A concerning number of these pools are now coming back positive for West Nile virus and it’s estimated that approximately 26 percent of those mosquitos in total are carrying the virus.”

London’s concern is for populations vulnerable to West Nile virus especially people over the age of 60.

“I don’t recall a year where we have had surveillance data that was more concerning than what we have now. So I am very concerned, that people will get hurt this year if they don’t follow the precautionary measures we recommend.”

That includes using repellent containing DEET, draining standing water around the outside of your home, avoid outdoor activities at dusk or dawn when mosquitos are most active and avoid wearing dark clothing.

Patrick Center, WGVU News