West Nile Virus detected in mosquitoes near Grand Rapids

Some mosquitoes near Grand Rapids are carrying West Nile Virus, the Kent County Health Department (KCHD) said Wednesday.

The virus was detected in mosquitoes in the 49525 ZIP code, which includes Grand Rapids Township, during surveillance. The health department tracks mosquitoes around the county each summer to monitor for diseases that could be spread to humans and animals.

"This discovery is earlier than in previous years, indicating a need for heightened vigilance and preventive measures," said Brendan Earl, Supervising Sanitarian at KCHD. "It lets us know that this season’s mosquitoes are now carrying the virus, which could spread to humans. It is crucial for people to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites to reduce the risk of infection."

According to the health department, only about 20% of people infected with West Nile will notice symptoms. 

Symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Joint pains
  • Fatigue

Though there is no cure, most people with West Nile Virus will fully recover, the health department said. However, fatigue can linger.

Also, about 1 in 150 people infected develop severe illness that can affect the central nervous system. Recovery may take several months. Some damage to the central nervous system can be permanent. In rare instances, the disease can lead to death.

Prevention is the best way to stay safe.

West Nile Virus prevention tips:

  • Wear a mosquito repellent that contains 10 to 35 percent DEET (read and follow product directions)
  • Wear light colored clothing and stay indoors during dusk to reduce your risk of being bitten
  • Remove or refresh water in bird baths, children’s wading pools, water bowls for your pets, and empty other small containers that can collect water in your yard
  • Ensure window screens are in good repair

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