The first human cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed for 2015. Three patients in Macomb, Monroe and Ottawa counties have been diagnosed with the disease. Kim Signs, an epidemiologist with the Department of Health and Human Services, says, "All were men in their 60s who were hospitalized with an illness consistent with West Nile neuroinvasive disease. And all were released and are recovering."
An additional two individuals have tested positive for West Nile virus through blood donation.
West Nile first appeared in Michigan birds in 2001, and the first human cases were documented in 2002. Since then, the virus has returned each year with new human cases. Signs says it is considered endemic in the state, and will return each year.
So far, the virus has also been identified in 57 birds and one bat. The state has also identified 11 mosquito pools that are positive for the virus in Southeast Michigan. No cases have been confirmed in horses, but because horses are sensitive to the virus, horse owners are advised to consider vaccinating their animals.
Residents are advised to avoid the virus by using mosquito repellents and protective clothing. They should empty water from any mosquito breeding sites such as buckets, kiddie pools or old tires, and cover open windows with insect screens.