First mosquito-borne virus of year confirmed in Michigan

The first infected mosquito report has come into the Michigan health department after some of the bugs collected in a mid-Michigan county tested positive for Jamestown Canyon virus. 

The mosquitoes were found in Saginaw County on May 22. Currently, no one has tested positive for any mosquito-borne illness, including JCV.

But the detection is a warning sign of things to come while serving as a reminder for residents to take care during the summer evenings this year. 

People infected with JCV tend to see illness develop within a few days to two weeks after being bitten. Most will not become ill, but those that have symptoms can range from fever and headaches. The rare cases come with severe complications to the brain, including encephalitis and meningitis.

"It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause a severe illness," said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive. "We urge Michiganders to take precautions such as using an EPA-registered insect repellent when outdoors, avoiding areas where mosquitos are present if possible and wearing clothing to cover arms and legs to prevent bites." 

Because of Michigan's warmer than normal winter, this year could bring more mosquitoes, including more carrying viruses. 

According to the health department, most of the mosquitoes that hatched in May are in woody habitats. In the past three years, 11 people have been infected with JCV. Another 21 cases of West Nile virus were reported last year.

The warm winter may have felt out of the ordinary, but it's part of a larger trend of more mosquito-borne illnesses appearing in the Midwest. This is likely the result of more testing, but it's also because of a larger presence of illnesses in the environment.